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Leicester follows Greater Birmingham down university high-tech jobs route

Leicester follows Greater Birmingham down university high-tech jobs route

🕔24.Sep 2015

Birmingham is not the only city planning to use its universities to nurture science and high-tech manufacturing companies through a business rates uplift schemes. Forty miles to the east, Leicester says it can create 25,000 jobs by creating an ‘area of excellence’ that would help new businesses to bring their innovative ideas and products to market, writes Paul Dale.

Plans for a research and development-led Enterprise Zone (EZ) were submitted to Government by the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) at the end of last week.

If successful, the new science and hi-tech manufacturing-themed EZ could bring nearly 25,000 new jobs and boost the economy by £180 million over the next 25 years, according to the LEP.

The proposal centres on three universities – Leicester, Loughborough and DeMontfort.

The intention is that the Enterprise Zone will capitalise on the huge commercial market that lies between research and the commercial world, by creating an ‘area of excellence’ that would support new and growing businesses to bring their innovative ideas and products to market.

Development of such a ground-breaking Enterprise Zone would make Leicestershire extremely attractive to science, innovation and hi-tech manufacturing companies looking for research facilities and industrial and office space to base and expand their business, according to Corin Crane, LLEP director.

The proposal is similar in many ways to the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP’s growth strategy which aims to use the cityn centre enterprise zone and the science and medical expertise of Birmingham universities to grow high tech companies and create jobs.

Mr Crane said: said:

Leicestershire sits at the very heart of the country and we are a key component in the Midlands Engine of Growth, which is a powerful partnership between business, LEPs and Local Authorities across the Midlands.

However, we don’t just make things here – we are at the cutting edge of innovative research, design and the manufacture of goods and services that impact businesses and people across the globe and we are determined to build on these fantastic opportunities.

We will deliver this Enterprise Zone through a unique partnership that will drive innovation and productivity through the development of new and existing business with the potential to grow in some of the UKs most important sectors.

We have already seen this model working brilliantly at MIRA Technology Park in the automotive sector and we wholeheartedly believe we can replicate this in the science, innovation and hi-tech manufacturing sectors.

A successful bid would certainly cement Leicestershire’s role as the R&D capital of the midlands and enable it to capitalise on its role in designing the economy of the future.

The proposal for the new EZ – stretching from Loughborough down to Leicester City Centre has been developed in conjunction with Loughborough University, Leicester City Council, Leicestershire County Council, Charnwood Borough Council and Charnwood Campus (the former Astra Zeneca site in Loughborough).

Bob Allison, vice chancellor at Loughborough University said, “The university is delighted to have its science and enterprise parks at the heart of the enterprise zone proposal for LLEP. This exciting proposal reinforces the unstinting commitment of our three universities to make a significant impact on the economic prosperity of the area, through the provision of a world-class R&D base, skilled graduate supply and innovation partnership opportunities.”

Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said:

We want to ensure that Leicester and Leicestershire are prospering, flourishing places to live and work. This means we can continue with improvements to infrastructure, skills training and business support so that we can make our city and county even more attractive to investors, resulting in jobs growth and continued prosperity in the future.

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