Plans for an innovation centre in King’s Lynn which have been in the pipelines for almost a decade have moved a step closer after winning a £2.5m Norfolk and Suffolk’s local enterprise partnership bid.

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Plans for an innovation centre in King’s Lynn which have been in the pipelines for almost a decade have moved a step closer after winning £2.5m of backing from Norfolk and Suffolk’s local enterprise partnership.

Enterprise agency NWES has secured a slice of New Anglia’s £18m growing places fund to help it create a purpose-built centre to nurture new and growing businesses.

Based in the Nar Ouse Regeneration Area site, the King’s Lynn innovation centre will consist of 25,000sqft of office, conference and networking facilities, which it is hoped will help to create 120 jobs in the local area by 2016.

The decision to award the West Norfolk scheme the money was deferred after the New Anglia board asked for more clarification about the plan.

But today New Anglia chairman Andy Wood said he was delighted that the partnership could support the important project and help kick-start jobs growth in the area.

He said: “King’s Lynn innovation centre will be a powerful catalyst for innovation and has been made possible through businesses, the education sector and local authority working together. It is a really exciting development.”

Kevin Horne, chief executive of NWES, said: “For almost 10 years it has been the desire of both NWES and the local council to provide an innovation centre in Kings Lynn. A number of things had combined to prevent this until now. Thanks to the council in Kings Lynn and West Norfolk we have identified the land and now secured investment which can now turn an idea into reality. The centre will combine with the others in the NWES portfolio which are home to over 300 growing businesses. By providing bespoke support, guidance and ongoing assistance, as well as a purpose built home, we will be able to harness and develop the economy in West Norfolk. We fully expect to help start up hundreds of new businesses in the area in years to come and create many more job opportunities.”

He said that while there were a few barriers to overcome before they could begin to build the centre, but it was his expectation the centre could be operational before Christmas 2013.

He said: “We aim to make the Kings Lynn hub as influential as our Beacon Innovation Centre in Gorleston which has probably had a greater economic impact on the county than any other building.”

Alistair Beales, cabinet member for regeneration at West Norfolk Council, which worked with NWES to put together the bid, said: “The enterprise and innovation centre will become a hub for business growth over the coming years encouraging innovation in business, supporting start ups and enabling knowledge and best practice to be shared. The potential for new business and new job creation will help ensure that King’s Lynn’s economic future will be vibrant.”

The Growing Places Fund is a revolving fund set up by New Anglia Lep to provide loan finance to infrastructure projects.

When the money is repaid it will be recycled into other projects.

The King’s Lynn scheme is the fifth to be approved by the New Anglia local enterprise partnership board. Four other projects were approved in June and include infrastructure and siteworks at Haverhill Research Park, an Ipswich flood defence scheme, a mixed and residential commercial development on the former HL Foods site in North Walsham and plans for the East Norwich Regeneration Project.

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