One of the more firmly-established success stories from the ravaged North-East of England is embarking on a major expansion programme and looks to create substantial opportunities for new employment, starting right now. The Microelectronics Applications Research Institute spin-out from Newcastle University is recruiting 250 staff over the next three years as part of an expansion drive sparked by 12 contracts worth over UKP10m – including a single UKP3.6m deal under the European Commission’s Race telecommunications initiative. MARI was set up as a research institute in l979 with UKP300,000 of funds provided over three years by Tyne and Wear County Council. Members include CAP Group Plc, and assorted northern universities and polytechnics. The group currently employs 130 staff and about 75 extra jobs are on offer now. This year MARI expects turnover to reach UKP7.5m with the training operation contribution 40%; research and systems development 26.6% and micro assembly and sales 33.4%. MARI sells systems development services to the EC, European and US-based companies and is involved in new technology projects such as Esprit and Alvey, focusing on telecommunications research. No plans are afoot to change MARI’s status as an institute – which means it does not pay dividends – but managing director Bob Cooper says this makes it difficult for the group to raise funds and will be reviewed at some future date. The group comprises four main companies. MARI Advanced Microelectronics Ltd, whose systems and software consultancy division struck the EC deal, has 20 immediate vacancies. The company is injecting more funds into its new division, advanced sensors, which will manufacture tactle sensors. The microelectronics arm is also setting up a centre to develop computer-based training and interactive video techniques in Stockton. The Advanced Training arm undertakes youth and adult training programmes funded by the government and European Commission, and is the group’s fastest growing operation. MARI Advanced Systems Ltd, the manufacturing arm which claimed a turnover of UKP500,000 from sales of its Tyneware range of Unix-based and IBM compatibles micros last year, is recruiting 11 more staff. This company also assembles personal computers for Victor Technologies using components supplied by the latter. And Hitech Applications Ltd – a joint venture with a shipping design company, MDC, Sutherland, expects to do UKP500,000 worth of business in its first year.