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Plans for £10m Innovation Centre at University of Essex unveiled

Artist's impression of the new £10m Innovation Centre at the University of Essex Knowledge Gateway

Artist's impression of the new £10m Innovation Centre at the University of Essex Knowledge Gateway

©2015 Infinite 3D Ltd

The University of Essex hopes £10million Innovation Centre on its Knowledge Gateway campus in Wivenhoe will encourage new businesses and help create up to 400 new jobs.

Plans have been submitted for the new centre, which will consist of 66 individual offices designed to accommodate businesses of between two and nine employees.

Work could start as early as spring next year if planning permission is granted by Colchester Borough Council, with the overall Knowledge Gateway masterplan having outline planning permission already, and provided funding is confirmed.

The centre, designed by architects ADP and Oxford Innovation, would be a focal point on the Knowledge Gateway science and business park.

It is hoped the centre will act as a “dynamo for growth” across the park by offering newer businesses space, as well as expertise from academics at the university, to develop.

The Knowledge Gateway

Work began on the Knowledge Gateway in 2010 with a £9million infrastructure investment.

The 43 acre science and business park is being built up over time, with phase one of the Parkside Office Village – backed by £2.4m from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership – opening in spring 2014, and the £21m Essex Business School which opened this year.

Existing tenants have already taken on 17 students and graduates from the University of Essex.

Interest continues to grow in the Knowledge Gateway with Blue Abyss, a project to create a space and marine research facility including the world’s deepest diving pool, latest high profile proposal.

They can also recruit new graduates direct from the university.

The university hopes the centre could create up to 400 jobs within the first 10 years of operation

Professor Anthony Forster, vice-chancellor at the University of Essex, said: “We have a world-class reputation for research and we are totally committed to transferring that knowledge to help create jobs and support growth in the eastern region.

“We want to connect Essex researchers, businesses and the public and voluntary sectors by providing a thriving business environment at the Knowledge Gateway.

“Our new Innovation Centre will deliver a step-change in the use of our cutting-edge research to improve productivity, support companies across the technology, professional service and creative sectors and create high quality new jobs.”

The centre will also be able to integrate with other elements of the gateway, such as the Essex Business School.

Architects have allowed for two additional wings to be added to the Innovation Centre at a later stage as more firms move onto the business park.

Phase two of the Parkside Office Village is also expected to start in early 2016.

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