Norwich Research Park gets �26m funding boost

Norwich Research Park secured a �26m windfall in yesterday's budget after chancellor George Osborne said it would share in a �100m pot to boost research and jobs.

The move, which appeared to come as a surprise locally, 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.

The news also delighted Norfolk MPs who had been lobbying ministers to support science and research in the county.

Alan Giles, Norwich Research Park director said the funding would help bring forward plans for a commercial science park on the western side of the site which was part of a vision to create 5,000 new hi-tech jobs on the park and around greater Norwich over the next 15 years.

'It's a fantastic boost and makes a big difference, it's the government saying it wants to invest in Norwich and Norfolk,' he said. 'We would expect jobs to be created in the food sector and health as part of a new generation of industries which will come along to meet the challenges around low carbon, healthy ageing and food security, we face.'

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Prof Trevor Davies, pro-vice chanc-ellor (Research) at the University of East Anglia, said the funding was a vote of confidence from the government. 'This welcome and substantial investment is the perfect launch pad for the Norwich Research Park to continue to drive economic growth for the benefit of the region and the nation,' he said.

South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon said: 'Norwich Research Park's cutting-edge work helps to secure Britain's place as a world-leader in scientific research, which is vital to our future economic success. This welcome investment will help the research park to realise its future plans and strengthen Norfolk's growing reputation as a dynamic county.'

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Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman said the funding meant East Anglia is well placed to become one of the leading business hubs of 'tomorrow's Britain'.

'At a time when public funds are constrained, I'm delighted that the government has been able to unlock �100m for science funding,' he said.

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts, who will be meeting Norwich Research Park officials, said the investment proved the UK science industry was very much open for business.

'The extra spending will help drive innovation and growth and reflects our commitment to cutting-edge research,' Mr Willetts said.

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