Plymouth Science Park’s plans for growth received a major boost thanks to a significant loan from the Council of just under £2 million.
The Council’s investment board has this week approved a loan of £1.98 million to expand the science park, which is the biggest in the south of England.
The loan will help unlock further funding from the Heart of the South West Local Economic Partnership and pave the way for 190 permanent employment opportunities in cutting-edge IT related industries as well as over 110 construction jobs during the build phase.
The science park, which is jointly owned by the Council and Plymouth University, is working with the local economic partnership to develop a project which aims to create high-quality office and business accommodation to encourage growing high-end businesses in the technology and IT market sectors in the city to flourish.
If full funding is secured, the Phase 5 expansion of the science park entails building 11 high quality business units geared to modern IT business work environments as well as altering one of the existing buildings, to make it more appropriate to the needs of developing businesses at the science park and freeing up much need start-up spaces.
The Council has committing to the loan, which is being made through its investment fund – a fund set up as part of Plymouth’s Plan 4 Jobs scheme.
Council leader Tudor Evans said; “Plymouth Science Park is the biggest science park in the south of England and is a key player in getting Plymouth’s name on a global stage.
“We need to keep supporting all the amazing businesses that are there and encourage more to come into the newly-expanded park so that it can carry on helping Plymouth to punch above its weight.
“This is about creating jobs and incredible opportunities for our young people – especially graduates – in really exciting fields of IT, creative and digital industries, medical and health care, advanced engineering as well as research and development.”
The loan from the Council will be matched funding for a verbally confirmed £3 million grant from the Local Growth Fund. The capital cost of the expansion is £6.97 million.
Simon Chamberlain, Chair of the Science Park Board said: “This is brilliant news and I’m delighted the Council is showing its commitment to Plymouth Science Park and all the businesses within it.
“We recognise there is other funding to secure but we are very pleased the council has been so committed to helping us secure jobs in this way and we look forward to getting confirmation of other funding in the near future.”
Plymouth Science Park is home to a community of 75 businesses employing upwards of 750 people, ranging from one man start-ups to multi-national corporations.
Companies range from computer software developers such as Carbon Pixel, and Argans, which has contracts with the European Space Agency.
Generating a combined turnover of £100 million, the park is designed to create opportunities for tenants to share knowledge and expertise in their fields as well as offer cross-sector business opportunities.
Now that the Council’s investment board has approved the business case, the proposal will be considered by local economic partnership and the University.
Plymouth University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Regional Enterprise, Professor Julian Beer said; “As co-owner of the Science Park, Plymouth University has played a lead role in its growth and success to date and continues to be committed to its future in developing the park’s potential to enhance the economic prosperity of the city and region. The University welcomes the support from the Heart of the South West LEP and will carefully consider how to take advantage of the proposed funding offer.”
Design and procurement processes are already planned out, so if all goes according to plan work could begin as early as autumn 2015.