Future of Norwich Research Park outlined at meeting

Plans to create a next-generation commercial science park in Norwich using �26m of government money were outlined at a meeting last night.

Earlier this year the government invested �26m in Norwich Research Park to stimulate economic growth and create jobs.

That money was given because of the excellence of research in Norwich and needs to be spent in the next few years, with a master plan for the project to be submitted for approval to South Norfolk Council by the end of the year.

Plans for the next-generation commercial science park include improved infrastructure, with better transport links and improved road junctions, and faster broadband for businesses based at the park.

It was revealed last night that at the centre of the project will be a large hub building and enterprise centre, including a shared restaurant to combine the business and academic sites of the park.

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The project, dubbed Project 26, would also include technology platforms, enabling facilities and flexible commercial space.

The park's head of operations, Dr Matt Hills, said the plans would make it easier to do business at the park.

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He said: 'The plans are designed to make it attractive for businesses to move to the park.

'It will kick-start growth at the park and hopefully encourage developers to put up research and development businesses here. The idea is that it will increase investment in the next 20 years.

'Faster broadband will allow businesses to exchange large data rapidly. At present only the university and institutes can use the academic broadband network, but that would be expanded to include business located here.

'The hub building would hopefully have a restaurant and maybe a small shop, and attract companies to move here and be based on the outskirts of the city.'

A small part of the �26m government investment will initially be used to refurbish some of the older buildings at the site, he said.

Meanwhile, the use of the �26m investment will be controlled by a government agency.

Research has suggested that the economic impact of the new commercial science park could create around 2000 jobs in the next 20 years.

This would be through growth in start-up companies, inward location and institutional growth.

The aim is to develop the park as a key driver of the regional economy, recognised as a world leading centre for research and innovation.

The funding to the research park in the budget was part of a package of measures to boost funding for science research and jobs at five UK centres, including Babraham, near Cambridge, to create new companies and jobs.

With more than 11,000 people the research park has one of Europe's largest single-site concentrations of research in health, food and environmental sciences.

It is internationally recognised for the excellence of its research in the plant and microbial services, food, health, environmental sciences, computer and information systems and chemistry.

The Norwich Research Park is a collaboration between the UEA, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, and four independent research centres: The John Innes Centre, the Institute of Food Research, the Sainsbury laboratory and the Genome Analysis Centre. The park is home to more tan 30 science and IT-based companies.


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