Work starts on new £7million innovation centre at Keele

Posted on 20 May 2015
This development signifies the beginning of a new phase of growth, a tangible demonstration of the continuing commitment the University wishes to make as an increasingly important economic anchor in Staffordshire.

Work has started on a multi-million pound state-of-the art innovation centre for existing high growth businesses and new companies locating to Staffordshire.

It is the first new facility of its kind to be built on this scale in the area for ten years thanks to a partnership between Staffordshire County Council and Keele University.

The £7million centre will provide 30,000 sq. ft. of office and workshop accommodation and is expected to create 130 jobs via the growth of existing business and inward investment from international companies relocating Staffordshire.

An event to mark the start of the project took place on site today and was attended by all of the partners involved. Keele University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nick Foskett, and Staffordshire County Council's economy leader, Mark Winngton, dug the first earth on site to mark the start of the development.

The centre is the fifth of its kind on the university campus and is set for completion in spring 2016. It will be located on an established site for future development on the Keele campus. Outline planning for this site has been approved for 13 plots of land with businesses and other partners being offered the opportunity to develop bespoke buildings from 13,000 to 940,000 sq. ft. It has been designed by the county council’s joint venture partnership Entrust.

Staffordshire County Council’s economy leader Mark Winnington said: “It is great to come to Keele today to see work at the new innovation centre get underway.  We took the decision to invest in the project four years ago so this a real milestone. It will further Keele University Science andInnovation Park’s reputation internationally as a prime location for innovation in the medical, technology and engineering sectors. The expansion of the park will lead to an increase in the cluster of this type of industry in Staffordshire and we are confident this can continue to grow. The centre will add to our drive to attract high quality businesses and jobs and bring real long-term benefits to the county.”

Professor Nick Foskett, Keele University Vice-Chancellor, said: “We are delighted to see our long-standing partnership with Staffordshire County Council result in this latest development, which signifies the beginning of a new phase of growth, a tangible demonstration of the continuing commitment the University wishes to make as an increasingly important economic anchor in Staffordshire.

"Effective collaboration between businesses and Keele is critical to underpin innovation-based economic growth across and beyond Staffordshire and the global visibility of Keele is a key asset in driving international investment we are keen to harness."

The latest innovation is a BREEAM ‘good’ rated building offering three floors of flexible open plan units, ranging from 1,000 sq. ft. through to an entire block of 9,000 sq. ft. All three floors will feature state-of-the-art specification with fibre optic internet connectivity. As well as benefiting from on-site facilities management and a range of support services from both the county council and the Science and Innovation Park, new tenants to the site will be given access to all academic and research facilities at the university, offering exclusive opportunities for pioneering start-ups, spin-outs and growing international organisations. Talks are already underway with a number of potential tenants.

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Notes to editors

• The Keele University campus has become a proven business location for local, national and international companies. With four innovation centres, the campus is currently home to 42 businesses including Siemens Wind Power Research & Development, Navman Wireless Vehicle Tracking Systems, Adecco Enterprise and GVA Acuity Ltd.
• Keele's position as a leading university for research of world class quality and international excellence was confirmed by the UK-wide Research Excellence Framework (REF). It found that 97% of the university's research is classified as world leading and of international importance.
• Staffordshire County Council cabinet members approved an initial £6.1million investment in April 2011, with the remainder committed in September 2013.