£1m boost for region's hi-tech firms

A £1MILLION-plus project to create hundreds of new jobs at new and fast-growing hi-tech businesses across the region has been launched by the East of England Development Agency.

A £1MILLION-plus project to create hundreds of new jobs at new and fast-growing hi-tech businesses across the region has been launched by the East of England Development Agency.

EEDA has award a contract to the St John's Innovation Centre, based in Cambridge, to help firms throughout the six counties of the region to emulate the many successes achieved at the centre since its launch nearly 20 years ago.

The new programme, which aims secure millions of pounds of new investment for the region and create more than 400 jobs, involves:

Developing specialist support for the region, making sure start ups are “investor ready” and capable of succeeding, through bespoke advice and specialists being “parachuted” in to help businesses;

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Further developing the East of England Innovation Relay Centre, recently voted best of its kind in Europe, to provide a partner service for businesses to develop research and development, innovation, and technology opportunities with firms elsewhere in the European Union; and

The appointment of an international relations officer who will be responsible for finding international partners for innovative companies across the region.

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Walter Herriot, managing director of St John's Innovation Centre, said: “This money and the services it will fund will have a real impact on the future of the whole region.

“We are developing enterprise hubs where companies can get the assistance they need to make their businesses succeed - accessing knowledge and networks which will improve their development.

“We have been set a tremendous challenge to spread the benefits of enterprise hubs beyond the walls of successful innovation centres and help businesses to realise the value they can have on their work.”

The centre, which provides “easy in, easy out” leases to around 60 tenants, with a focus on early-stage knowledge-based businesses, was established by St John's College in 1987 and is widely recognised as having played an import role in the evolution of Cambridge's cluster of hi-tech businesses.

David Marlow, chief executive of EEDA, said: “This contract is an excellent example of how public sector funding and private sector know how can come together for the benefit of entrepreneurs in our region.

“At the East of England Development Agency we are acutely aware of our responsibility to help new start ups develop into successful and thriving businesses. This is why we are working with St John's Innovation Centre and Walter Herriot to bring their specialist knowledge to the benefit of the whole region.

“The three strands of this initiative are designed to give our entrepreneurs the chance to compete effectively not only in the UK but in Europe and across the world. By creating strong networks and clusters we are ensuring opportunities are opening up to all those who have products and services which have the potential to have a significant impact on the economy.”

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