Sustainability was a focus for Harkness Screens’ new Innovation centre.

Leading global cinema screen manufacturer Harkness has opened a new Innovation Centre with sustainability at its heart, to feed its production facilities on three continents.

The new Innovation Centre features laboratories for optical coatings and photonics, a test spray booth, and facilities for virtual reality testing and PVC development within a newly refurbished 8,666ft2 former industrial unit in Stevenage.

Chief technology officer Laurent Espitalier and his R&D team upcycled, reused and upgraded materials to reduce the overall environmental impact of the state-of-the-art centre, including furniture for the new wet lab and photonic lab being designed and manufactured in house by the team from the previous large production tables that were no longer needed.

The new Innovation Centre is the realisation of a 10-year ambition of Harkness Screens CEO Mark Ashcroft, some 70+ years after Harkness became part of the Rank Organisation and stablemates with fellow great names in cinema, Pathe and Odeon. This saw Harkness cement their R&D within the Elstree studio complex although it later moved to another site in Stevenage.

Laurent and his team  established the new Innovation Centre in parallel with their work to improve the company’s quality and business management systems, update non-conformance reporting, develop the laser-ready screen surfaces including Nova and the highly acclaimed Qalif Spectro, and not least, to create the new Compact+ packaging technology that saves up to 85% on shipping and installation costs, with no impact on optical performance.

CEO Mark Ashcroft said: “This state-of-the-art Innovation Centre cements our position as the world’s most innovative cinema screen manufacturer as recently evidenced with the launch of our Compact+ technology which also supports our focus on sustainability.”

Laurent’s team comprises a mix of senior and junior scientists, a VP and SVP in cinema technology and product development, and an experienced specialist in manufacturing and coating, complemented by a further six scientists and engineers based in France and the US.

Harkness’ new innovation centre was official opened by the board of directors, the senior management team and the UK staff.