A U.S. technology company which is developing a drug-free cure for winter depression, sleep disorders and jet lag has won a chance to set up at York Science Park, it was disclosed today

Enlightened Technologies Associates Inc (ETA) of Fairfax County, Virginia, won its place at the brand new £7 million York Biocentre, Heslington by scooping the Fairfax Incubation "Touchdown" competition.

It was chosen from four finalists in the competition organised by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority in the U.S. in conjunction with the UK Science Parks Association and UK Business Incubation.

ETA has chosen York above other top centres of innovation around the UK as preferred base to start its European operations early next year. It will get a £10,000 kick-start prize from. Yorkshire Forward, the regional development agency.

ETA uses spectacles, called Somnavue, with fibre-optics embedded in the lenses and light emitting diodes in the frames, to stimulate sensors in the brain and "change the hands of the body clock." Its technologists claim that the 'specs' replace the need for sleeping pills and anti-depressant drugs.

By beaming targeted light into the eye, the glasses can overcome the effects of Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome - daytime cat-napping causing night time insomnia - which affects about half of the over-65s.

It is also thought to cure jet lag and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) experienced by many with the onset of winter.

ETA is likely to man its York outpost with two full-time and two part-time staff, but possibly more if venture funding is negotiated in time.

The win is particularly good news for the York Inward Investment Board, whose client services director Carole Moor first stoked up interest in York by visiting Fairfax County in Virginia last February.

Updated: 11:41 Thursday, October 31, 2002