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£9.6 million new Research and Engineering Facility opens

7 Oct 2021 2:45PM

The new DigiTech Centre located at BT’s Adastral Park in Martlesham, Suffolk officially opened today.  
 
The Rt Hon Dr Thérèse Coffey, MP for Suffolk Coastal and Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions, opened the £9.6 million research and engineering facility, which is a joint project between the University of Suffolk and technology and telecommunications firm, BT.  

The DigiTech Centre will provide cutting-edge digital skills for people looking to pursue careers in information and communications technology and received the blessing of Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne, when she visited Adastral Park at the beginning of the project.  
 
Specialist high tech laboratories form the heart of the new centre and it will be used jointly by University staff, students and businesses at Adastral Park and across the region. 
 
Professor Mohammad Dastbaz, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Suffolk said, “In a rapidly developing technological age, we want the DigiTech Centre to be a state of the art ‘solution centre’ for SMEs and other businesses as well as research and knowledge transfer hub.  The Centre will have state of the art specialist laboratories in AI, Data Science, Network Security and Cyber range and will make Suffolk a recognised destination for industry-focused ICT and Digital Creative study programmes and an internationally recognised destination for continuous professional development in digital technologies. This new initiative will play an important role in our region and nationally and we are pleased that students at the University will benefit from the partnership with BT and state-of-the-art facilities.” 
 
Adastral Park is BT’s global Research and Development centre and has played a pivotal role in telecommunications research, such as the commercialisation of single-mode optical fibre, and the recent development of the world’s first quantum networks. 
 
Lisa Perkins, Adastral Park and research realisation director at BT, said:  “This is a major milestone for us at Adastral Park as this new centre will help supply a rich pipeline of new technology talent, which will not only be of huge benefit to BT, but also the entire region.”  
 
“There is also a growing demand for people with skills in new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data science. The courses and scholarships offered through the University of Suffolk will mean that we will have access to students graduating with these key skills right on our doorstep.” 

“The DigiTech Centre builds on a legacy of innovation and development at Adastral and ensures the East of England continues to be a major technology hub.” 
 
The DigiTech Centre has received funding from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). C-J Green, Chair of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership said, “This is a stunning facility and one which will help supply the skilled workforce demanded by our fast-growing and high-value digital tech sector. Ipswich is recognised as having a vibrant digital creative hub and students at the DigiTech Centre will have the opportunity to become part of the Adastral Park community. This investment will nurture skills, create jobs and increase growth and productivity in a sector that underpins the Norfolk & Suffolk economy.”   

Dr Thérèse Coffey, MP, said “I think the DigiTech Centre is really exciting, it’s innovative, it’s the first of its kind. We have got one of the world’s, if not the world’s biggest investor in Research and Development, just down the road from the University of Suffolk. I am really excited to see this substantial collaboration. I know BT have been very good at bringing other companies in and the link with the University of Suffolk will make a real change and a real difference for the University.”

“The variety of courses here, whether it is about artificial intelligence or about some of the, what is now quite common technology, we still need really skilled people to keep developing it and to be able to keep pace with the global competition. Home-growing some of that in Suffolk is very exciting and I am thrilled to be here to see this next step in what’s happening at Adastral Park.”

The DigiTech Centre has several facilities which span both the University’s Waterfront campus in Ipswich and BT’s Adastral Park. Adastral Park is home to BT’s Applied Innovation Labs and a cluster of over 150 other high-tech digital and technology companies, Innovation Martlesham. Nicky Daniels, Head of Innovation Martlesham said, “The University of Suffolk and Innovation Martlesham have a strong relationship and the DigiTech Centre is a fantastic addition, making available cutting-edge digital skill programmes for our companies, who are very active in the information and communications sector.” 
 
To find out more about the DigiTech Centre please visit www.uos.ac.uk/digitech 

Contact: 


University of Suffolk Press Office
E: press@uos.ac.uk