An entrepreneur who started his business with help from enterprise agency Erewash Partnership has become its new chairman.
Ian Hopkinson, director of Derwent Analytics and Harlequin BPI – based on the Manners Industrial Estate in Ilkeston, has taken over from Simon Woods, managing director of educational equipment manufacturer TecQuipment.
Ian was employed for 17 years as a chemist, but he realised that the process he worked in was a shrinking market and that new technology was changing the situation. He went on to research the idea of setting up his own firm, which he did 16 years ago.
He said: “I leaned heavily on the partnership because I needed skills to run Derwent Analytics that I did not have. They encouraged me and were very helpful.”
Initially, the company made solutions using chemical reactions that were used in everything from kidney dialysis machines to a wide range of industrial uses.
And in 2009 the firm hit headlines by producing a solution that meant every time somebody in the UK drank a fizzy drink made by Coca Cola it had been tested at Derwent Analytics to make sure it was the real thing.
Derwent Analytics later made solutions to clean cosmetic contact lenses and then diversified into other products, creating spin-off company Harlequin BPI in 2012.
The company, which now manufactures and develops health care products for supermarkets under their own brands, has started exporting to Europe, has a multi-million pound annual turnover and 23 employees, in addition to seven at Derwent Analytics.
In July it unveiled a £400,000 investment in building and equipment enabling it to make more than three million bottles of different products, more than doubling capacity.
“It’s a great accolade to become chairman of the partnership,” said Ian, a board member for seven years.
“As a businessman I have become more successful than I thought with the honour of leading a progressive economic regeneration agency.”
Partnership chief executive Ian Viles said the board was delighted that having helped Ian, particularly in his early days, he had become chairman.
“His business has grown and become a classic example of the spirit of enterprise that the partnership promotes and encourages,” he said.