Technology firm invests in the North East

A County Durham technology firm is bucking current trends and safeguarding jobs by investing in the development and manufacture of a new product in the north of England.

Bosses at the Annfield Plain-based Ameeca decided not to look abroad when it came to developing a new children’s audio system, StoryPhones.

Gateshead-based product development firm Octo Product Development Ltd and Newton Aycliffe injection moulding company DSM N.E. Ltd were chosen to help produce the innovative audio system.

Ameeca managing director, Simon Johnson, said he was delighted to be giving the North East economy a boost in the face of the current slowdown.

He said: "We considered looking abroad, but decided that for what we needed the quality wouldn’t meet our high standards and we had to source in the UK.

"It was also better to work with companies on our doorstep as we needed to work closely together on the development. We are delighted to be helping retain jobs in the region."

The StoryPhones system will be assembled by Northern Hi-Tec Ltd in Lancaster, and director Eleanor Johnson – who came up with the original idea for the product – said it was a vote of confidence for UK manufacturing. She said: "Everyone keeps asking if we’re manufacturing in China, but we couldn’t get the quality needed. StoryPhones will be used by children and it needs to be of a high quality and has to be robust."

Kevin Smith, sales director of Northern Hi-Tec Ltd, said StoryPhones was a unique and challenging product to manufacture. He added: "StoryPhones demonstrates the very best of UK design and manufacture. It is a great product to be involved with.”

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