Entrepreneur takes helm at partnership that helped him start up his business

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, Ilkeston, has taken over from Simon Woods, managing director of educational equipment manufacturer TecQuipment.
 
Simon, whose company is based in Bonsall Street, Long Eaton, had been chairman for six years.
 
Ian was employed for 17 years as a chemist, mainly at Celanese in Spondon. He recognised that the process he worked in was a shrinking market and that new technology was changing the situation, so he explored the possibilities and opportunities of setting up his own business, which he did 16 years ago.
 
“I leaned heavily on the Partnership because I needed skills to run Derwent Analytics that I did not have,” he said.  “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.
 
In 2009 Ian's company hit the 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 by know-how from 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 such as eye and ear drops and vapour rubs for supermarkets under their own brands and 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 chair and was putting something back in.”
 
“His business has grown and become a classic example of the spirit of enterprise that the Partnership promotes and encourages,” he said.
 
Ian said TecQuipment had been a stalwart supporter of the Partnership since it began 22 years ago and Simon had followed this tradition.
 
“Simon has been a pillar of strength and stability during difficult and challenging economic circumstances.
 
“We have been fortunate to benefit from his knowledge and wisdom and he hands over the leadership to another safe pair of hands.”
                                                                                                                                  
He added that Simon was heavily involved in the Partnership's move to new headquarters at Bridge House, Long Eaton, and refurbishing the former offices at The Old Police Station in Ilkeston which set a good example of local philanthropy and continued the agency's strong presence in the town.