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Tue 21st January
York Science Park home to more than 100 businesses
York Science Park is earning a reputation beyond nurturing some of the city’s most innovative science-based business – as it now boasts a growing number of family-run firms.

Now home to more than 100 businesses, York Science Park has six different accommodation options providing both office and laboratory space to all types and size of businesses, spanning the creative, media, technology, IT and science sectors.

Working alongside the University of York, the Science Park has proven to be an attractive proposition for a number of science-based businesses, using the university’s facilities and research to enhance commercialisation of a range of biological and chemically produced products.

Attracting science-based business was inevitable.

However, directors at the Science Park have noted a rise in the number of family businesses setting up.

Kim Hodgson, business development manager at the Science Park, said: “Family businesses are not traditional ‘mom and pop’ corner stores any more.

“They have gone high-tech and reflect the types of businesses that are going from strength to strength in York.

“These days, if you are working in the family business there is an expectation that you are very good at what you do.

“Family or not, businesses cannot afford anyone who is not pulling their weight.”

Once such family-run business is the Aptamer Group, based at the Bio Centre. Run by husband-and-wife team Arron Tolley and Melanie Ellyard, along with director David Bunker, the business creates synthetic alternatives to antibodies known as aptamers.

Ms Ellyard joined the business after her husband and Mr Bunker uncovered the “massive commercial opportunity” for aptamers while studying at Leeds University.

Ms Ellyard said: “Arron and David researched the potential to develop and sell aptamers and set up the business.

“They approached it very much from the scientific side of things. My background is in financial markets so I was brought in initially to give advice in terms of funding.

“Over the course of time it became obvious that there were a lot of opportunities for the organisation. We grew and became the Aptamer Group, and I just never left.

“When you have got a small business the people and the personalities are incredibly important because we are working so closely together.

“Everyone works really hard. Our hours aren’t typically nine to five, it’s more like niner to nine, so getting on and having the same goals and ambitions for the business is very important. We all have complementary skill sets.”

Welcoming the second generation of the family is Atkinsons & Atkinsons Consulting, a chartered accountancy and consultancy practice operating out of the Innovation Centre at the Science Park. The business was set up ten years ago by Peter Atkinson, who was joined by his wife Jane.

The growing team has recently welcomed on board the couple’s son, Chris.

Peter Atkinson said: “As we have grown we have moved into the science park, with the beauty being that it’s easy to move as you grow.

“We have grown rapidly, and are seeing 25 per cent growth rate year on year, as well as taking more staff on, including Chris.

“In terms of the business we do the things you would expect an accountancy business to do, but we also do a lot more through utilising technology.

“We are gold partners with Xero cloud accounting and cloud book-keeping. Through that we can help people much further afield.

“We are always on the lookout for new technology, and are prepared to take on new technology and embrace it.”

Chris Atkinson joined the family business, having trained with multinational accountancy firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

He said: “I thought about joining Atkinsons and thought what a great opportunity to work together to take it to the next stage.

“It’s much more interesting. As a family we are meeting people from all different types of industries, businesses with all different types of problems.”

The Science Park has also provided start-up accommodation for another husband and wife team who launched Touchright.

Having ran a business in the lettings market, Terry and Rachel Lightfoot noticed a gap for specially designed software to allow lettings agents to fill out and access reports on mobile technology.

Once the business was created, Touchright moved into office space at the Springboard centre on the Science Park.

Mr Lightfoot said: “It was very helpful being there in terms of setting up the business, especially in terms of the networking opportunities, speaking to other residents and sharing business opportunities.

“There are lots of businesses we will stay in touch with, either in collaboration terms or going forward as clients.”

For the full story please visit the York Press website

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