University of Sussex project gets cash boost

University of Sussex Life Science building SUS-161026-102515001
University of Sussex Life Science building SUS-161026-102515001

Plans for a Bio-Innovation Centre at the University of Sussex has been handed £5.5 million funding.

Coast to Capital, the area’s Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), announced the £66 million funding pot yesterday (February 2) which was handed to the LEP by communities secretary Sajid Javid in a bid to create jobs, support businesses and encourage growth in the area.

Simon Kirby and Sajid Javid SUS-170302-100855001

Simon Kirby and Sajid Javid SUS-170302-100855001

The Bio-Innovation Centre, a business incubator for new life-science projects - and part of a new Life Sciences building at the University of Sussex - was awarded £5.5 million funding.

The cash will help the University of Sussex to develop a planned new Life Sciences building at its Falmer site, incorporating the Sussex Bio-Innovation Centre, which will become the hub of the University’s life sciences and biomedical research growth base for bioscience entrepreneurs and pharmaceutical companies.

Professor Michael Davies, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of Sussex, said: “This is an extremely welcome cash injection by the government into the greater Brighton region.

“Our Bio-Innovation Centre will help businesses bring exciting new innovations to market, working alongside world-leading researchers in cancer research, neuroscience, biomedicine and drug discovery.

“It will also provide opportunities for skills training, work experience and employment for our Life Sciences students.

“We are looking forward to working closely with our partners at Coast To Capital to get this project off the ground.”

Mike Herd, executive director of the Sussex Innovation Centre, said: “The provision of specialist laboratory space is a real obstacle to early-stage businesses making inroads in the life sciences sector, so the announcement of this funding is great news for the region’s innovators.

“It gives us the opportunity to create a truly unique facility for the south east, bringing together a community of researchers and businesses in close proximity.

“This will further encourage the sharing of ideas, knowledge and experience between the academic and commercial world, and support the development of biotech start-ups and spinouts.”

Tim Wates, Coast to Capital’s chairman, said: “We are delighted to support the University of Sussex Innovation Centre in bringing forward this ground breaking project. The aim is to create an innovation resource which will provide the infrastructure, support facilities and advanced technological expertise to help entrepreneurs and businesses translate their ideas into new products, processes and services.”

The Bio-Innovation Centre will create an environment that supports the creation of higher-level jobs so that employment opportunities better

reflect the skills of an increasingly youthful and qualified population and opportunity sectors in the region.

The construction phase of this new development is planned for October 2017.

The government has also invested £12.1m for a project to develop a new Brighton Centre - a modern, dedicated conference centre and arena facility - at the Black Rock site on Brighton’s seafront - east of the Palace Pier. It is part of the wider ‘Brighton Waterfront’ regeneration project which would also see the expansion of Churchill Square shopping centre to the seafront, taking on the current Brighton Centre site.

Mr Wates said: “The aim of the project is to form a central plank in the re-positioning and ‘future proofing’ of the city’s economy. As well as the regeneration of the Black Rock site, the project will also enable Brighton’s existing conference facility – the Brighton Centre (almost 40 years old) – to be redeveloped for commercial and residential uses appropriate to its prime city centre location, supporting regional growth.”

Construction of the new development is set to begin later this year.

Simon Kirby, MP for Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven, said, “I have been lobbying ministers for a long time for funding to support local projects and am delighted to see this money coming to Brighton for the Sussex University and Black Rock projects. This funding will hugely benefit the local community and help to boost economic growth.”

This latest award of ‘Local Growth Funding’ is on top of £238.3 million of government funding already awarded to Coast to Capital - which covers West Sussex, Brighton and Hove, the Lewes district and parts of Surrey up to Croydon.

In this round of funding, cash has also been awarded to: ​​New Monks Farm and Airport Business Estate; Croydon Fairfield Hall and College Green; Burgess Hill Growth Sustainable Transport Package; Horley Business Park Access Road; Worthing Central (Phase 1); and Burgess Hill Growth Area Transport Package.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said: “As part of efforts to deliver an economy that works for everyone, the government is equipping local people with the resources they need to drive forward local growth.

“That is why we’re giving £66.06 million new money to Coast to Capital to give businesses the support and opportunities they need to achieve their potential – on top of the £238.2 million we have already awarded.”

Jonathan Sharrock CEO of Coast to Capital said: “I am delighted that government has recognised the compelling case we put forward for investment in major infrastructure to support the economies along our Croydon, M23, to Brighton corridor. The investment will herald huge economic and cultural benefits as well unlocking new housing opportunities. The funding will support projects to create new employment space to secure up to 2,300 jobs across the region and deliver the infrastructure to support up to 1,000 new homes in key locations.”