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East Anglia Future 50

Commons speaker John Bercow 'incredibly excited' at opening of Colchester £12m innovation centre

PUBLISHED: 17:12 01 July 2019

From left, John Bercow, Cllr Tony Ball from Essex County Council, Jo Stevens from Oxford Innovation, University of Essex Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Forster and chief executive of SELEP Adam Bryan  Picture: DAVE HIGGLETON

From left, John Bercow, Cllr Tony Ball from Essex County Council, Jo Stevens from Oxford Innovation, University of Essex Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Forster and chief executive of SELEP Adam Bryan Picture: DAVE HIGGLETON

Dave Higgleton

A £12m University of Essex centre which is set to house more than 50 businesses has been launched in Colchester.

University of Essex's Innovation Centre at Colchester  Picture: DAVE HIGGLETONUniversity of Essex's Innovation Centre at Colchester Picture: DAVE HIGGLETON

The Innovation Centre, based at the Knowledge Gateway research and technology park, is set to house early stage and start-up technology companies and student entrepreneurs.

Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow - who is chancellor of the university - helped launch it at a special event attended by business leaders and key partners.

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The centre is operated by leading innovation centre operator Oxford Innovation, and will be the base for Studio X, the university's digital creative collaborative studio and student start-up programme.

Mr Bercow, who graduated from the University of Essex with a first-class honours degree in government in 1985, said: "The Innovation Centre takes this university's engagement with business to a new level. I'm incredibly excited to see how this community grows and I will be coming back to meet the companies which move in and the students who will be developing their business ideas here.

From left, John Bercow, Cllr Tony Ball from Essex County Council, Jo Stevens from Oxford Innovation, University of Essex Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Forster and chief executive of SELEP Adam Bryan  Picture: DAVE HIGGLETONFrom left, John Bercow, Cllr Tony Ball from Essex County Council, Jo Stevens from Oxford Innovation, University of Essex Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Forster and chief executive of SELEP Adam Bryan Picture: DAVE HIGGLETON

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"Bold, curious, free - that is how we talk about the Essex spirit and we hope every business and every student who comes into this space will be inspired to take forward new ideas."

Guests at the launch toured the facilities and also met Amy, a service robot created by Chinese company Amy Robotics co-founded by Essex graduate Dr Ruijiao Li who is the company's chief roboticist.

The 38,000sq ft building has 50 self-contained offices and co-working areas suitable for one to 11 people. It also includes meeting and conference facilities, tailored business support, a café, areas for students to develop business ideas and space to showcase research,

Jo Stevens, managing director of Oxford Innovation, said they were "delighted" to launch the facility, to help to propel innovation in the region.

The centre is being backed by £2m of support from the government's Local Growth Fund via the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) and a further £2m from Essex County Council.

Adam Bryan, chief executive of SELEP, said the site would send out "a very positive message to local entrepreneurs that we are committed to supporting them on their path to commercial success".

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