PM David Cameron backs plans for a Wet Dock Crossing in Ipswich linking Wherstead Road with Cliff Quay

A new innovation centre will be developed at UCS in Ipswich.

A new innovation centre will be developed at UCS in Ipswich.

A new technology and innovation centre and preliminary work on a project for a new wet dock crossing in Ipswich are among the projects to get funding from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership in the latest government Growth Deal announcement.

New laboratories, first-class exhibition space and an enterprise incubation centre will be available to hundreds of students and businesses after the LEP secured £1.75m funding for a new Ipswich Waterfront Innovation Centre.

And it is to spend £100,000 on a feasibility study to work out the impact of a new wet dock crossing.

The investment in Ipswich was welcomed by Prime Minister David Cameron, a week after he visited the town to launch the Conservatives’ employment policy for the general election.

He said: “Giving local communities the power and the money to unlock growth and development and make the spending decisions that work for them is a key part of our long-term economic plan to secure a brighter future for Britain and ensure a recovery for all.

“Projects such as the study on the Wet Dock Crossing, which the local MP Ben Gummer has campaigned for, will make an important difference to the area.

“That’s what Growth Deals are all about, backing local people and investing in the infrastructure, housing and skills that will drive forward local economies, create more jobs and opportunities for hardworking people and supercharge all parts of our country.”

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The Waterfront building, near the existing university buildings, will cost £3.5m in total to refurbish and will be opened in Easter 2016.

It will house high-profile innovation space for the business community with science and technology laboratories. The space will help 20 new businesses to develop their ideas with support from the institution’s research resources.

It will also bring together students, with employers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and ICT (Information, Communications, Technology) sectors.

At the same time a feasibility study will look at the proposal to build a new Wet Dock crossing over the lock gates and linking into the west bank of the Orwell.

That would enable work to start on a new high-tech business park on the island site – and could see some of the start-up businesses from the Innovation centre move across the water.

Tim Greenacre, deputy provost at University Campus Suffolk said: “UCS is delighted to receive this funding, which will be a major building block for our plans to provide the Innovation Centre on the Ipswich Waterfront Campus.

“It recognises the work undertaken at UCS in growing our STEM work for the benefit of students and the local economy alike.”

The move was welcomed by Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, who has championed the proposed Wet Dock crossing.

He said the feasibility study was the first phase in the project, which should be followed by a design stage and then the construction of the bridges.

He added: “I am delighted that we are pressing ahead with the enterprise and innovation hub I want to see on the Waterfront. I want to see new, sustainable and high value jobs on the waterfront – not just flats – and both these projects will make that happen.”

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere said: “This is excellent news. The Innovation Centre will bring high value jobs and skills to Ipswich.

“The council is committed to expanding the opportunities available for local people and to boosting help to companies who need access to a range of technical support. We are very pleased to be working with UCS the LEP and the county council on this important project.”