Queen’s Award for innovative Saffron Walden company

Founder John McGregor (far left) with son Robert (far right) and employees at Contamac in Saffron Wa

Founder John McGregor (far left) with son Robert (far right) and employees at Contamac in Saffron Walden - Credit: Archant

A Saffron Walden company has received a highly prestigious national business award for its work in developing materials for contact lenses.

Contamac, who are based at Shire Hill, has won a Queen’s Award for Innovation after becoming the first company to make a breathable silicone hydrogel material for speciality lenses.

It is the firm’s second Queen’s Award, having been previously awarded the prize in the international trade category in 2012.

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are given only to companies who are outstanding in their field, and Contamac is one of 92 businesses to receive the innovation award this year.

The company, which started in founder John McGregor’s shed in Stansted in 1986, has grown rapidly into a multi-million pound business that supplies contact lense materials around the world.

Mr McGregor said: “It’s an enormous honour and the staff will be overjoyed with the award. To be recognised by an independent committee for the work that we do is truly great and shows just how talented and committed our people are.

“It isn’t just one department, the whole company has been involved in the process of developing the new product, and we are all very proud of the award.

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“The material for speciality lenses will make a real difference to people’s quality of life.”

Contamac, who employ 76 staff, previously had premises in Stansted, Dunmow and Cambridge before completing a move to Saffron Walden in May last year.

Mr McGregor’s son Robert, who sits on the board at the company, said: “When we won the previous Queen’s Award in 2012, I think we underestimated the impact it would have globally.

“It gave us more exposure and really boosted us within the industry. To win two out of the three categories is credit to all at the company, particularly the research and development department, which we continue to invest in heavily.

“The company has expanded significantly since it began, and we will continue to drive forward with new products that will take us to the next level.”

The presentation of the award is likely to take place at the company’s premises later this year.