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Arrow | Innovation Associates

A dedicated innovation associate helps guide an Arrow project to its successful completion.

Take a look below for more information on the Arrow Innovation Associates from Northumbria University.

Gareth Crapper Northumbria UniversityDr Gareth Crapper FRSC - Innovation Associate

Dr Gareth Crapper is a polymer scientist with 30 years’ experience in the industrial coatings market.  This work covers:

  • Both business-to-business and business-to-consumer market environments.
  • A broad range of sectors: Marine and Heavy Duty Protective, Appliance, Architectural, Automotive, Packaging, Furniture, IT, Non-Stick and High Heat, General Industrial and Consumer/Decorative.
  • The associated technologies to service those customers, including thermosetting powder coatings, solvent and water-based reactive thermosets through to water-based dispersion polymers.
  • All this has been done across range of geographies, essentially world-wide, but including time living in China running a laboratory there, and running laboratories in Western Europe.
  • Dealing with the upstream and downstream supply chains for those businesses, which gives a great network of suppliers and end-users to build on.
  • Work has ranged from long-term research programmes through to incremental formulation adjustments carried out at scale across volume product ranges.

More recently, Gareth has spent time as an independent consultant, working with industry and academia to commercialise new technologies.  Three years of this were as Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Liverpool.

Since December 2023, Gareth is working on the Arrow Programme at Northumbria University to bring his experience and contacts to help SMEs in the North East in the area of Advanced Materials and Sustainable Chemistry.

In his spare time, Gareth is a keen gardener and cycling guide!


Craig Hodgson Northumbria UniversityDr Craig Hodgson - Innovation Associate

Dr. Craig Hodgson completed his PhD at Northumbria University (2018-2022), which focussed on synthesising novel multimetallic complexes for OLEDs, in collaboration with and co-funded by Merck KGaA. Craig has since continued to work on a variety of research projects at Northumbria University with close links to industry, as a postdoctoral research assistant.

Craig applies his broad knowledge of chemical synthesis and analysis to provide collaborators with technical expertise, to drive innovation. During a recent project in collaboration with Newcastle University and Northumbrian Water, Craig developed bio-based sustainable polymer coatings to produce a biocomposite, offering Northumbrian Water a novel method of recovering phosphorus from wastewater. The technology was scaled up from small lab-scale experiments to the kilo-scale and demonstrated on a live wastewater treatment plant.

Craig currently works on the Arrow programme providing expertise in advanced materials and sustainable chemistry, to support SMEs in the North East of England that wish to innovate in this area.


Chemistry PhD, Northumbria University (2018-2022)

Applied Chemistry MChem (1st class, Hons), Northumbria University (2013 - 2018)

Professional Accreditation

Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA)


Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry (MRSC)


Matt UnthankDr Matt Unthank - Academic Lead

Dr. Matt Unthank has over 10 years’ experience in research and leadership roles with two major multinational research organisations, spanning two industrial sectors (pharmaceuticals and polymers). His industrial experience is specifically in polymer synthesis, coatings research and commercial scale-up of chemical processes, established though both industrial (AkzoNobel – Polymer Chemistry Technical Leader; GSK – Senior Scientist) and academic (visiting academic University of Manchester, Associate Professor in Polymer Chemistry, Northumbria University) research employment.

This experience includes the development of new polymers, polymerisation processes and coating systems to meet market requirements and coating performance properties (including corrosion protection, chemical resistance and exterior durability). This is demonstrated through an extensive patent portfolio in this field (WO 2018011103, WO 2017068015, WO 2015165808, WO 2015082409, WO 2013107747).


Justin PerryProfessor Justin Perry - Academic Lead

Prof. Justin Perry has over 15 years of experience of working closely with the polymer, materials and formulation industries through Industry funded collaborative PhD projects and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships across the coatings, inks and additives industries. Specifically, Professor Perry has a long-standing collaboration with AkzoNobel having supervised 6 PhD research projects over 15 years in the field of polymeric coatings.

In addition to this, Prof. Perry has led a KTP with a NE based ink manufacturer Multichem Ltd (rated ‘outstanding’ on completion) and a double KTP (with Dr Unthank) with Lear Corporation (polymer foam synthesis and engineering). In addition, Prof Perry has run the Nzomics Biocatalysis (with Prof Gary Black) for over 10 years developing biotechnology solutions for clients in the pharma, fine chemical and bulk chemical sector in part supported by InnovateUK funding.


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