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Celebrating a Decade of Createc: an Interview with David Clark

This June we celebrated 10 years of Createc. To mark our anniversary, we interviewed Operations Director, David Clark, who has been with us every step of the way. He's been instrumental to our success and this article shares his story of the last nine years with Createc.

David Clark was working in France as a gamma-ray astronomer involved in satellite missions when an online search alerted him to an opportunity at Createc. He’d first gone to France in 2010 when the financial crisis meant investment was pulled from astronomy research and development projects in the UK. France offered better opportunities, but one year later David was keen to return to Britain, so he did what many of us might do. “I literally typed into Google, ‘gamma ray job in the UK’. And it worked! I saw a Facebook post by Matt Mellor who had set up this business called Createc in Cumbria and hurriedly sent my CV across,” said David. “I came across for the interview and immediately knew it was what I wanted to do. The job role was ideal.”

It was early days for Createc. The company had only been set up in June 2010. It was spring 2011 and David had just become employee number four. Before moving to France, David had been working on projects to transfer gamma-ray astronomy imaging technology to the nuclear security industry, and specifically working in industry/academic collaborations. An expert in his field with an entrepreneurial drive to succeed, David’s work has resulted in more than 40 publications, receiving more than 1,500 citations. He had also worked on international collaborations, to develop instrumentation and proposals for gamma-ray astronomy missions GRI, Dual and PheniX, and an astronomy collaboration to study the Supergiant Fast X-ray Transient objects and measure gamma-ray polarimetry.

David immediately bought into Createc’s philosophy of focusing on solving a problem and making sure the solution was not industry-specific. This means that Createc’s development work in its three core areas of imaging, sensing, and robotics is agile and flexible and can be applied to any situation in any industry. So far Createc has enjoyed some of its biggest successes in nuclear, national security, rail, energy, manufacturing, aviation and the Ministry of Defence.

One of David’s first roles at Createc was working on technology to be used by the Home Office for baggage scanning. “The challenge was to develop a baggage scanner which could accurately and quickly identify baggage contents, to check, for example, not just that there was a bottle inside a bag, but to identify what liquid was inside that bottle. It could also identify whether a battery was actually a normal battery, or whether it was, in fact, an explosive.”

Today David is the Operations Director for Createc, supporting CEO, Matt Mellor, in running the business. David leads the development and implementation of Createc’s project management system, while continuing to manage key projects in the company’s main research team. “By being a small company - now employing 30 people - we are able to be agile and do some really cool stuff. There’s a lot of energy across the business and a real ‘can do’ attitude. We’ve got the freedom to work out solutions to problems and make fast progress on projects.”

David pinpoints the moment Createc developed its N-Visage® technology as a game-changer for the business. “There was a big transformation after the Fukushima Daiichi accident happened (in March 2011). Before that, we were a small group of people coming up with great ideas. After Createc attended the UK nuclear industry trade mission to Japan, we were able to show that our technology - specifically our N-Visage® system - could really help people. All of a sudden we were more than a research and development group, we were able to go out and make a positive difference in society. From that point we have developed more and more capability.”

David has been involved in developing the concrete depth profiling technology, D:EEP, with the help of InnovateUK and Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) grants plus a collaboration with Costain. David has also been involved in developing several new technologies for Createc including a motion-tracking technology for the Ministry of Defence’s Sensing for Asset Protection with Integrated Electronic Networked Technology (SAPIENT) programme. He now represents Createc on the MoD’s SAPIENT Interface Management Panel. The SAPIENT technology he has helped develop has resulted in Createc’s first spin-out company, Sportlight, which is developing the world’s most advanced sports analytics engine to revolutionise sports science and sports analytics. Sportlight uses cutting edge, military-grade technology, developed by Createc, to provide hyper-accurate, relevant and rich intelligence to professional sports teams.

David said: “I’m really proud of what the Createc team achieve. Every time I stand up at a conference and tell everyone who we are and what we do I feel proud. People always come up afterwards and say: ‘wow, that’s really impressive’. It reminds me why we are here. It’s having a core idea, developing it, and applying it to provide a solution to a real-world problem and solving human challenges.”

David is also delighted he chose to make the move to Cumbria. “My wife Emma is from North Wales and although I am from Fareham, near Portsmouth, I like the outdoor life and we thought Cumbria would be a good place to bring up a family. Our children, Thomas, aged seven, and Isabella, aged four, agree, and both enjoy trips to the office, especially if it means they get to see robotics and VR controllers.

David said: “Createc does a lot of work to inspire young people into science, engineering and technology careers. Having companies like Createc here shows that Cumbria is far from being a backwater when it comes to high-tech companies. It’s a beautiful place where we can do a lot of cool high-tech research and development and solve human challenges.”

Looking ahead, David has his sights set on the acceleration of further Createc success and more spin-out companies.“Now is the perfect time to focus on the future. I can see us really start to accelerate and grow into an internationally recognised and respected, community of companies. We have got the right people with the right mindset and the right capabilities to be able to go and achieve that.”

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