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100th company spun out from Teesside’s digital revolution

11 June 2010 @TeessideUni


A major milestone was reached today in Teesside’s bid to make itself one of the global capitals for the digital revolution.

The 100th company has been launched by the DigitalCity Fellowship scheme based at the University which has been supporting digital entrepreneurs for nearly seven years.

The new company is a science-based enterprise, Gold Extraction and Purification Technologies, and the brains behind it is Andy Robinson.

As the title suggests, the aim of the company is to extract gold from rock and waste materials and purify it to 99.9% purified gold for medical research.

Andy, 29, is an electrical engineer by trade and he spent six years working with the steel industry as a consultant advising on how to make high value products such as stainless steel out of scrap steel. He believes the same can be done with gold.

Opening up new commercial opportunities ‘Over the past decade, gold has become a metal of great interest in the fields of science and engineering as new commercial opportunities have opened up,’ explained Andy.

‘This however, has been coupled with increasing prices of gold as well as increased difficulties in extracting new gold sources.’

With this in mind and in conjunction with the Institute of Digital Innovation (IDI) at Teesside, Andy has been working to develop digitally based reaction mechanisms that will:

> reduce reaction development time > increase the profitability of gold extraction and purification > minimise the amount of waste produced through gold processing.

Universities UK WeekAndy said: ‘In many ways, the greatest innovation with this project is moving a heavy element of process design onto a computer screen and out of the laboratory where the greatest expenses occur.

‘There is an additional benefit in that the resulting gold won’t have any toxic impurities associated with current extraction techniques – especially important for medical research.’

At present gold is often extracted from rocks and waste material using dangerous chemicals such as arsenic and cyanide – hardly appropriate for use in developing products to support cancer research.

Andy has been provided with a DigitalCity Fellowship grant funded through the European Regional Development Fund and One NorthEast along with space in the IDI digital labs at the University, as well as advice and other support from experts.

He has also been mentored by Andrew and Sylvia Dean from another of the DigitalCity Fellowship science-based companies, Nano Agrochemicals, which was launched two years ago.

Andy added: ‘With gold trading at record prices they are opening up old gold mines where there is a lot of waste material that most people would think is of little or no value. But if you can extract and purify the gold you can get very high-value material.

‘To achieve this you would normally need a very expensive scientific lab. However, thanks to the IDI and University facilities, I have access to the software needed to digitally design how to map out scientific reactions at a molecular level and predict what will happen to the raw materials.’

Sylvia and Andrew were only too keen to help mentor Andy through his DigitalCity Fellowship and have offered to help develop his digital solution using Nano Agrochemicals’ experience of using nanotechnology in the agricultural industry.

100th company is great news for the Tees Valley Ian Williams, Director of Business and Industry at One NorthEast, said: ‘To now have 100 firms benefiting from the DigitalCity Fellowship programme is great news for the Tees Valley, and is a clear signal that we are growing a stronger, more digital-based business community as a critical part of our North East Digital Strategy.

Dr Jim TerKeurst, Director of the IDI, added: ‘Our DigitalCity Fellowships have gone from strength to strength in the last seven years and we are now producing nearly a new company every week.

‘This has only been possible because of the great ideas that people like Andy are coming to us with and the support we have had from Europe, the region and Teesside University, together with consultants like Andrew and Sylvia, and bodies such as Business Link and One NorthEast. It is certainly clear to me that the North East is a hotbed of great ideas and true enterprise.

‘We have all kinds of new companies – many of which have taken digital media forward in fields such as finding new ways of using mobile technology. Now we are moving more into the scientific areas such as nanotechnology.

‘It is a great milestone to be able to announce our 100th company and help in the process of creating a new economy for the North East. The success of bright young sparks like Andy is going to be very important for the future of this region.

‘We can provide support and facilities while people like Andy carry out vital research into the viability of their innovative ideas and we wish him every success and welcome him as the 100th DigitalCity company.’

In the News

100th company spun out
Investment Now, 01/06/2010, p.36
The DigitalCity fellowship scheme at Teesside University has launched its 100th company, Gold Extraction and Purification, founded by Andy Robinson.

Teesside’s digital revolution
Health and Care (Web), 25/06/2010
The DigitalCity Fellowship scheme based at Teesside University has launched its 100th company. Science-based enterprise, Gold Extraction and Purification Technologies, was provided with a grant throug

Extracting gold from rock and waste
The Engineer Online (Web), 21/06/2010
Newly launched UK company, Gold Extraction and Purification Technologies, is the 100th company to be launched by the DigitalCity Fellowship scheme at Teesside University.

Six of the best digital gold diggers
Evening Gazette (Teesside), 15/06/2010, p.6
Dr Jim TerKeurst, Director of the Institute of Digital Innovation at Teesside University, comments on the success of the DigitalCity Fellowships initiative

Engineer extracts gold from waste materials
Newcastle Herald & Post (Web), 14/06/2010; Northern Echo (Web), 14/06/2010
The 100th company to have been launched via Teesside University's DigitalCity Fellowship scheme is dedicated towards the extraction of gold from waste materials. Gold Extraction and Purification Techn

Teesside Digital Institute to cash your gold
Computer Weekly (Web), 14/06/2010
The 100th firm to launch through Teesside University's Institute of Digital Innovation is one dedicated towards the extraction of gold.

Digital milestone's Midas touch, 15/06/2010; Evening Gazette, 14/06/2010, p.18; Newcastle Herald & Post (Web), 15/06/2010
A major milestone has been reached in a bid to become one of the global capitals for the digital industry with the launch of the 100th company by the DigitalCity Fellowship scheme at Teesside Universi