July 22 2014 Latest news:
West Suffolk reporter
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
A new innovation centre dedicated to improving the prospects of west Suffolk’s small businesses has been handed a £2million funding boost.
The Epicentre will sit at the heart of the fledgling Haverhill Research Park and provide facilities for start-up and growing businesses, with a focus on the ICT, bio-tech and agri-tech sectors.
The 30,000 sq ft, four-storey centre could create as many as 300 new jobs when it opens in September 2015.
The New Anglia and Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough (GCGP) local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) put in a joint bid for funding for the project from the government’s Growth Deal, securing a big chunk of the innovation centre’s £5.4m total cost.
Grahame Nix, chief executive of GCGP, said: “Haverhill Research Park is ideally located to provide much needed new innovation space for a range of pioneering businesses looking to start-up and grow.
“Its location close to Cambridge – the globally renowned innovation capital – means that we can help to expand the positive impact of the Cambridge phenomenon beyond the city boundaries, enabling the wider economy to flourish.”
Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia, added: “There is great potential to grow the number of hi-tech businesses in west Suffolk.
“The Innovation Centre will be a flagship building and a catalyst for the rapid development of the wider research park.
“It is a great vote of confidence in the project that we have secured this funding from government.”
The Epicentre will include high specification offices and research and development space, as well as conference and meeting rooms, training facilities and a coffee shop.
There will also be a work hub for shared working, allowing people to ‘hot desk’ renting a desk for an hour, day, weekly or monthly.
West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock said: “This is fantastic news for the wider local economy, but I am delighted to see that the New Anglia LEP and the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP growth plans both support the development of Haverhill.
“The Haverhill Innovation Centre will be a great boost for the town, supporting hi-tech local jobs and the growth and expansion of local businesses.
“It will help keep Haverhill moving forward, increasingly becoming a hi-tech town on the up with more high-end jobs.”
The Epicentre only secured detailed planning permission from St Edmundsbury Borough Council last month, and council leader John Griffiths welcomed the investment.
“West Suffolk has a strong track record of delivering successful projects and getting the job done,” he said.
“I would like to thank the New Anglia and Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEPs for working so well with us, and for sharing our commitment to Haverhill and its leading role in providing employment, investment and the future prosperity for West Suffolk, where it is such an important town.”
The park off the A1307 is eventually set to create 2,000 new jobs, while 150 homes and leisure venues are also being provided.