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This channel will bring you some of the information behind the DigiTech Centre and how we are building a great new place to learn and study in the digital sector. To introduce myself, I am Will Pryke, Project Manager for the DigiTech Centre and I’ll be posting regular updates on the development of the centre.

The DigiTech Centre is part of the School of Engineering, Arts, Science and Technology (EAST) which was formed last year to bring the digital and creative disciplines together in one school. The DigiTech Centre will have several facilities which include the Ipswich campus but will be mainly focused at our new base at BT’s Adastral Park site on the eastern outskirts of Ipswich. The town has recently been named in the top 25 ‘emerging destinations’ for 2020 by TripAdvisor.

The main work over the summer has been the development of the Arts Building which supports the Creative & Immersive Digital study. This is based on the Ipswich campus and opened to students in September 2019. I’ll talk more about that amazing space in the next blog.

My focus since I joined the University last October has been to scope and plan the delivery of the Adastral Park based facilities. The DigiTech base will initially span one and half floors of Oberon House situated towards the rear of the Adastral Park site. This is not currently visible from outside the park but will be on the perimeter adjacent to the new road being put in for the Brightwell Lakes development in the near future.

Adastral Park is a world class centre for innovation in technology and media and provides an inspirational setting for the Digitech Centre. Adastral Park is home to BT’s Applied Innovation Labs, find out more about BT Innovation. The Park is also home to an exciting cluster of over 120 other high-tech digital and technology companies.

As well as establishing the Oberon base, we will be upgrading the acoustic suite including the anechoic chambers as well as the Alan Rudge lecture theatre and library spaces. Again, I’ll talk more about those in future posts.

So why do we need a DigiTech Centre you may ask? Simply, all industries are becoming more “digital”. Data is at the heart of driving digital transformation and this is especially true of sectors that were traditionally less data was collected. The criticality of data within businesses is growing exponentially and this is driving the need for a fundamental digital upskilling of the UK wide and regional workforce.

As part of the DigiTech Centre we have established a Strategic Board (SB) with representatives from the business community to ensure that we deliver the type of training and experience that businesses need. Jim Marshall, SB Board Advisor and founder of Marshall Wolfe (a Suffolk based Hiring Consultancy), gives his perspective: ‘There is fierce competition for Digital Talent nationally. Companies and regions are often focussed on how to attract the best talent with precious little time and effort in creating genuine opportunity for upskilling local talent. For me the Digitech centre proves we, as a region, can deliver a business and education collaboration that is super relevant and will benefit local people  and local companies’.

The DigiTech Centre will have several focus areas:

  • Creative & Immersive Digital – spanning film, photography, 3D and VR, computer games development.
  • Cyber Lab – Focusing on digital forensics and a cyber range that will offer a unique virtual environment that can be used for cyberwarfare training and cyber technology research and development.
  • Sustainability & Smart Living – encompassing energy and sustainability and smart living technologies that power the Internet of Things (IoT) for both cities and rural environments.
  • Telecoms & Future Networks - Research including test and measurement capability for fixed and wireless networks (Smart Metrology).
  • Data Science & AI – development of machine learning and data science skills within a cloud environment to tackle data and information problems across all sectors identified as important for this region.
  • Professional Development (CPD) – utilising University of Suffolk expertise and external providers to deliver professional and certified training for local business.

The DigiTech Centre will come online in phases as work is completed to re-furbish and upgrade the facilities at Adastral Park. We are expecting to receive our first students in 2020/21 academic year.

Watch this space for more information.

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