With the aim of bringing universities and businesses together to innovate, Prospect Leicestershire is aiming to further strengthen the region's world-class reputation for innovation
With three world-class universities and an enviable reputation for private-sector research, Leicestershire is a hive of innovation activity. Bringing universities and businesses together to innovate is one of the key objectives of Prospect Leicestershire, the new economic development company for the city and county.
Leicestershire?s reputation for innovation is well founded. Modern developments, such as the world?s first hydrogen-powered motorbike and genetic fingerprinting, carry on a tradition that goes back to Sir Frank Whittle?s development of the jet engine. Today, Prospect Leicestershire boasts a thriving network of leading private-sector research and development organisations, including PERA in Melton Mowbray and MIRA, the automotive research and development centre in Hinckley. Others include the Systems Engineering Innovation Centre and the Centre for Excellence for low-carbon and fuel-cell technologies, both based at Loughborough University.
Now, it?s hoped to stimulate more private-sector businesses from Leicester?s reputation as the space capital of the UK. The city has the National Space Centre and one of the largest space science research centres in Europe. Prospect Leicestershire is aiming to turn this academic prowess into economic advantage, strengthening links between business and education through its Three Universities for Business initiative.
Prospect Leicestershire is also involved in building new science parks, places where university research turns into commercial ventures that keep graduates in the area and attract high-technology businesses to locate, invest and develop here. At Loughborough, Phase One of a new science and enterprise park is complete, while in Leicester a major site is ready for development. These are key projects for Prospect Leicestershire, which sees the area?s reputation for innovation and creativity as key to future prosperity. Prospect Leicestershire, aneconomic development company is charged with delivering physical regeneration and growth, business innovation and support and inward investment across Leicester and Leicestershire.
It is an economic alliance forged between Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council that has created a unique opportunity for the new company to offer an exciting ?no boundaries? proposition to potential investors, developers and companies looking to relocate. For the first time, there is one organisation, Prospect Leicestershire, that can make doing business with the city and county much easier. The unique combination of regeneration, development, relocation and investment experts in Prospect Leicestershire, working together under the same leadership, makes the city and county an attractive prospect to innovative organisations.
By bringing universities and businesses together to innovate, Prospect Leicestershire is aiming to further strengthen the region?s world-class reputation for innovation. Leicestershire boasts a highly skilled and diverse workforce. It is home to an abundance of knowledge and expertise in science, technology and business. Being home to three world-class universities, Leicestershire is unique for a non-metropolitan area. The University of Leicester, De Montfort University and Loughborough University feature many centres of research excellence in sectors such as space science, bio-medical science, engineering and creative industries ? all enjoying strong relationships with local, national and international companies.
As part of the ongoing commitment to innovation Prospect Leicestershire has, it has developed Three Universities for Business. This brings together the three universities to showcase their complementary specialist services for local and regional businesses.
Prospect Leicestershire works with partners to host sector-focused events around innovation and creativity. The most recent of these attracted more than 85 healthcare and bioscience professionals from across the East Midlands. The event gave them the opportunity to talk directly to researchers from the University of Leicester, Loughborough University and De Montfort University, who are developing the latest healthcare technologies, and to explore ways these technologies could be developed in their businesses. The chairman of Prospect Leicestershire, Nick Carter, said: ?All the universities are developing breakthrough technologies with fantastic commercial potential. The latest of our Three Universities for Business events showed how this is true in healthcare and bioscience but it?s equally the case in other research sectors. Events like this allow people to see those opportunities for themselves and to investigate with researchers how these cutting-edge technologies could be developed commercially.?
Prospect Leicestershire is committed to the development of a Science and Innovation Park in the city, and is marketing a site to innovative businesses. The location is actually made up of two sites overlooking the River Soar, situated either side of the National Space Centre and totalling seven hectares (17 acres). The smaller site is ready for development ? a new access road has been built, services and structural landscaping have been installed and provision is being made to install high-capacity broadband to the site. The site has outline planning permission for B1b (science and innovation), which is current. The site to the north requires infrastructure to be built to open it up. This will be provided when the southern site is well on its way to being fully occupied or when there is interest from a large inward investor.
Zeeko, a Leicestershire company that designs, develops and manufactures components for space telescopes, has applied for detailed planning permission for a 2,000 sq m (c. 20,000 sq ft) office and manufacturing unit, showing that businesses are already buying into the vision of Leicester Science Park. The unit will be an example of innovation and manufacturing for space exploration.
Negotiations are ongoing with East Midlands Development Agency, Leicester City Council and Prospect Leicestershire to develop the first phase. When it is complete, Leicester will have a 4,000 sq m (c. 40,000 sq ft) incubation and grow-on space for home-grown graduates spun out of the two universities. It is also designed to attract growing companies wishing to expand from the existing incubation unit at De Montfort University. The remainder of the site will be available for inward investors with a science and innovation leaning, particularly if it is linked to space exploration or development. Prospect Leicestershire stresses that this does not preclude other uses, however.
The county will also be home to a science park, next to Loughborough University.
Phase One of the development is already complete, and comprises over 40,000 square metres of offices and laboratories. Loughborough University owns and has obtained outline planning consent for Phase Two comprising 7.85 hectares of undeveloped land. The university also owns adjoining land which it may incorporate as an additional phase.
Nick Carter ( Prospect Leicestershire ) said: ?Our universities and innovative private sector mean the innovation potential for the city and county is huge. The creation of two science and innovation parks shows the commitment in this area to harnessing the knowledge of graduates and innovative professionals in the city. ?Once completed, these developments will further strengthen Leicester?s reputation as a fantastic place for science and innovation, and knowledge sharing.?
The three universities Prospect Leicestershire is linking are:
De Montfort University has an outstanding reputation for working with industry, drawing on a national and international reputation for research excellence and innovation. It has a long history and a wealth of experience of working with, and for, local and regional businesses, providing research and consultancy, and is highly rated for the employability of its graduates. The university prides itself on its approach, which blends academic vigour with practitioner-led expertise to respond to the needs of individual clients.
Loughborough University has an international reputation for its strong links with industry, excellence in teaching and research, unrivalled achievement in sports performance, technology and world-class facilities. It can provide access to a wealth of professional and technical expertise, and offers many specialist services to help businesses of all sizes improve performance and competitiveness.
The University of Leicester is a leading UK university with a proud past, an exciting future and a strong track record of working with business. Its research activity has the greatest impact of all Midlands universities and it works alongside companies and organisations of all sizes to deliver cost-effective solutions to today?s business challenges, by providing access to a wealth of knowledge and industry expertise, as well as state-of-the-art resources.
Prospect Leicestershire Limited
Two Colton Square,
Leicester, LE1 1QH
Tel: 0116 222 3311
Added the 27 April 2010 in category Innovation UK Vol6-1