A turf-cutting ceremony and the burial of a time capsule marked the beginning of construction of the new Centrum building at Norwich Research Park following a £26M investment from BBSRC.
The new £11.5M building, due to open in Spring 2014, will form the hub of commercial research and development at the Norwich Research Park, Europe's leading centre for research in food, health and the environment. The expanding campus could bring valuable jobs and major investment to the region. The building is being constructed by contractors Morgan Sindall.
Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: "The Government's £26 million investment in Norwich Research Park is recognition that it will drive growth, foster innovation and support skilled jobs. It is excellent news that the project is making such rapid progress. This is a crucial step in us realising our ambition for the park to be a world-class hub for research and development."
The event on March 22 was attended by senior representatives of national and local government and other local stakeholders, with the turf cutting and time capsule placement being performed by George Freeman MP and Richard Bacon MP.
In a departure from tradition, the time capsule contains documents and objects provided by the guests that capture their aspirations for the Norwich Research Park over the next twenty five years.
The vision of the Norwich Research Park partners and stakeholders is to develop a thriving research and innovation campus over the next decade and beyond by supporting spin-out and start-up companies and through attracting inward investment from multinational corporate organisations involved in science and technology.
The radical plans, of which Centrum is a major element, could lead to the creation of more than 5,000 jobs in the longer term.
Centrum will be Norwich Research Park's new hub building, offering high quality interaction space where innovative businesses and academics can meet.
For those companies that take up the laboratory and office accommodation provided across the top two floors of the building, it will provide a unique opportunity to work alongside the best scientific and research minds.
With a business centre, meeting rooms, a restaurant and café, Centrum will provide the necessary commercial space for larger businesses in the appropriate sectors looking to locate onto the Park.
The building is part of substantial BBSRC investment in the Norwich Research Park to deliver innovation from the research base and generate economic growth and job creation.
The investment will help to create and support new companies and jobs based on world-leading bioscience. Developments on the Park include:
- New Centrum 'Hub' Building and commercial research and development space - opening Spring 2014
- New Enterprise Centre - building due to start in Summer 2013
- Enhancements to the Innovation Centre
- Improvements to the car parks, lighting, roads and service infrastructure
- Investment in IT infrastructure to support high technology demands and academic and commercial engagement
- Improvements to the highways around the Park
- The addition of low-cost commercial space
In total 65,000 square metres of new commercial space for research and development will be created.
The Norwich Research Park North development area includes the John Innes Centre site (also encompassing research institutes The Sainsbury Laboratory and The Genome Analysis Centre), Institute of Food Research site and the University of East Anglia triangle site.
Steve Visscher, BBSRC Deputy Chief Executive, said: "BBSRC's investment represents a commitment to growing and developing the UK's bioscience base to help to create and support new companies and jobs based on world leading bioscience. The Centrum building will help ensure that Norwich Research Park has the infrastructure and capability to position itself as a world leader in agri-food, health and environmental sciences."
Alan Giles, Project Director, Norwich Research Park said: "We are determined that by 2030 Norwich Research Park will be a pre-eminent international research and innovation Park focused on crops, food, health, genomics and environmental sciences."
Gavin Napper, Area Director for Morgan Sindall, said: "We're delighted to be marking the start of work on this landmark project. The Centrum building is key to the wider development of the Norwich Research Park and we are looking forward to bringing our extensive experience in constructing specialist research facilities to bear on this exciting and ambitious project."