Darlington’s newest business centre Innovation Central continues to live up to its name – attracting another inventive start-up with ambitions to disrupt its sector globally.
Environmental marine technology company Laytrix has moved to the £8million Central Park site where it will accelerate its plans to create innovative solutions for clean energy projects.
The company is the brainchild of engineering designer Andy Stevenson and a spin out of his consultancy company Ardmore Craig which he sold in 2021 to focus on developing products that solve challenges in the sector.
After securing a £60,000 grant from Innovate UK, Andy decided to put down roots at Innovation Central where his new team are preparing to develop a prototype of Laytrix’s first product before seeking further investment to bring it to market.
The product, an adaptable and modular tool, is designed to be temporarily loaded onto a standard platform supply vessel – allowing it to install or recover pipelines, undertake handling operations or attach tendons to anchor floating objects to the seabed.
Applications for the system range from floating offshore wind projects to picking up decommissioned oil and gas pipelines from the seabed. The aim is to provide a cost-effective and flexible alternative to hiring a specialist vessel, dedicated to the job.
Andy said: “I had this product idea a decade ago when running my consultancy business. I kept spotting opportunities that I didn’t have time to explore, so it’s really exciting to finally be able to focus my energy on bringing these ideas to life.
“Our aim is to offer a solution that’s about half the price of existing options by providing a core tool that’s adaptable, and moveable and can easily be added to smaller, readily available vessels.
“Although this is a niche sector, it’s growing all of the time all around the world because there is such a drive to make environmental changes. There’s a huge mandate to clean up the oceans and we know companies in Brazil, Thailand and Australasia are all watching closely what we are doing. There’s a lot of interest already.”
Laytrix has already won a number of industry awards for its work in subsea technology, decommissioning technology and offshore energy and has now secured patents for its tool in Europe, the United States and Asia.
Andy said the team’s move to Innovation Central marks its next step towards bringing the ideas to life. “Our grant from Innovate UK was the driving force behind the new office,” he said.
“Innovation Central was the natural choice for us because my previous company was based at the sister site Business Central so we know the team and the quality of what is offered.
“We also wanted somewhere that reflected what we do and the name itself was a perfect fit. The transport links make it easy for visiting clients and for our team to travel so it’s the perfect location for us and we’re excited about the future.”
Vanessa Wood, Centre Manager at Innovation Central, added: “We’ve known Andy for many years so it’s great to be by his side as he starts this next exciting chapter of his business journey.
“Laytrix is the perfect example of the type of innovative start-up we’re aiming to attract to our thriving business community. We’ve only been open eight months and I’m proud to say we’re already home to a range of companies who are coming up with solutions to challenges facing our world today and tomorrow.”
Chris McEwan, cabinet member for economy, said: “Darlington continues to be at the centre of new technologies and innovative businesses. We are keen to support businesses of all sizes and in a wide range of industries and I am delighted to welcome Laytrix to Innovation Central.”
Innovation Central and neighbouring sister site Business Central provide a connected business community at the heart of the town’s Central Park development. Both are owned by Darlington Borough Council and are managed by the North East BIC.
Innovation Central features 45 Grade A offices and five labs, all designed as flexible spaces where businesses can grow. The project is jointly funded by Darlington Borough Council, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), £3.55million from the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority, and the Government’s Getting Building Fund.