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University of Suffolk is awarded £6.4m for new skills and innovation project

27 Mar 2019 3:30PM

New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has today (27 March 2019) announced Capital Growth Funding totalling £14.5m for four new projects, which will boost skills, innovation and productivity in Suffolk and Norfolk. One such project is a unique partnership between the University of Suffolk and BT, which has been awarded £6.497m for the establishment of a nationally significant ICT learning, research and training centre at Adastral Park.

The centre, will transform the digital landscape of the UK and underpin the Digital Tech growth ambitions of the area bringing together the UK’s largest Digital and Telecom Services provider BT, Adastral Park Business Community, and the University of Suffolk. It will combine high quality academic capabilities, world-leading industrial research and development.

Professor Mohammad Dastbaz, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Suffolk, said, “We are delighted to have been awarded Capital Growth Funding from the LEP. The funding will allow us the opportunity to form a unique partnership- uniting our University with a world leading telecommunications company in BT. This partnership will undoubtedly help the region’s ambitions for economic growth and provide a vehicle for developing the high end skills required.”

Professor Mohamed Abdel-Maguid, Dean of the School of Science Technology and Engineering, at the University of Suffolk said, “Our aim is to transform how high-end technical education is delivered. The new world-class co-working specialist laboratories that will be developed will enable us, at the University of Suffolk, to transform our project-based learning where undergraduate and postgraduate students work collaboratively with businesses to solve industry challenges as an integral part of their education. We will be able to offer apprenticeship education, a ‘solution centre’ for Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and other businesses as well as research and knowledge transfer opportunities. This partnership will enable Suffolk to become a recognised destination for industry-focused ICT and Digital Creative degrees and an internationally recognised destination for lifelong learning and Continuing Professional Development (CPD).”

Lisa Perkins, Adastral Park and Research Realisation Director, said, “We’re delighted to be working with the University of Suffolk to create a combined research and training institute that will accelerate the development of future skills in our sector. The provision of the funding creates the opportunity for us to satisfy the demand from industry for key skills, and gives prospective students unique opportunities to facilitate learning in a technology and business environment at Adastral Park.”

In October, New Anglia LEP made a fresh call for new projects to apply for Capital Growth Funding, with a specific focus on delivering the ambitions of the Economic Strategy for Norfolk and Suffolk. The Strategy sets ambitious targets for the area, including growing our £35bn economy by £17.5bn in real terms by 2036, creating 88,000 new jobs and 30,000 successful new businesses. Following detailed analysis of the LEP’s Capital Growth Programme to date, the call for new projects was given a specific focus on the themes of Skills, Innovation and Productivity.

Speaking following funding approval for the new projects at the LEP’s board meeting today, LEP chair Doug Field said, “Through its Growth Deal with Government, New Anglia LEP has been entrusted to make investments providing the infrastructure, skills and innovation that will supercharge our economy.”

“The targets set out in the Norfolk and Suffolk Economic Strategy are ambitious, and it is only through collaboration with partners in business, the public and education sectors that we can achieve them.”

“The quality of the business case put forward for each of these four projects was enough to beat a host of other strong applications. I believe each will make a lasting and telling contribution to achieving the aims of our Economic Strategy.”

Paul Winter, chair of the New Anglia Skills Board, said “These projects represent a huge boost for our skills ambitions in Norfolk and Suffolk. Evidence gathered for our Digital Tech Sector Skills Plan tells us our two counties will need 10,000 new highly skilled workers in the sector by the middle of the next decade. But that number quadruples when you include skilled digital jobs serving other sectors. These projects will help address that need with leading edge resources, whilst also providing the environment for our next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs to thrive.”

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