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Colchester business centre gears up for launch

An “expert team” is now in place at a new £12m business centre based in Colchester designed to bolster the region’s emerging science, technology and digital creative industries.

The purpose-built Innovation Centre, Knowledge Gateway will deliver flexible workspace and support for up to 50 enterprises.

Start-ups and entrepreneurs are now invited to take up space at the centre, located at the Knowledge Gateway research and technology park at the University of Essex’s Colchester Campus, with the doors officially opening on Monday, April 29.

Oxford Innovation, the UK’s largest Innovation Centre operator, has just agreed a partnership with the university to manage the centre and has put together a team ready to help “propel innovation”.

Jo Stevens, Managing Director of Oxford Innovation, said: “We are thrilled to have put together an expert team to manage the centre and help propel innovation in the region. We are committed to supporting the next generation of business leaders to reach their potential, creating jobs and boosting the economy in the process. Being part of the Innovation Centre, Knowledge Gateway is a further demonstration of our ambition.”

The team includes Centre Director Dan Smart, who has experience in delivering developmental, technical and exploratory courses in the education sector as well as in senior management for a start-up company in the renewable energy sector.

Innovation Director Neil Griffin also joins, bringing 15 years’ experience in a strategically-driven, commercial management environment as well as being a key part of the growth of brewers Adnams.

Assistant Centre Manager Georgine Watts, who has a wealth of experience in facility management, completes the management team, while Angela Baker and Bryony Shuter are joining as Customer Experience Assistants.

Also joining the team will be Vanessa Cuthill, Director of University of Essex’s Research and Enteprise Office, and James Cracknell, from Studio X – the university’s student incubator based on the ground floor of the centre.

Dan said: “I’m excited to be playing my part in the development of the Innovation Centre, Knowledge Gateway and building on the great offer Oxford innovation already has.

“Partnering with the University of Essex and being based on the Knowledge Gateway offers exciting collaboration opportunities for companies who, by utilising the knowledge, skills and equipment of the university as well as our inhouse innovation director, could gain valuable support and resource in developing their business.

“Having this resource in the growth stages of any business could be key to those innovative companies looking for their next steps. The collaboration with like-minded businesses and the wealth of knowledge on our door step will lead to the Innovation Centre, Knowledge Gateway being the region’s go-to for innovative companies.”

Alongside the space managed by Oxford Innovation, the centre will include a café, areas for students to develop business ideas and space to showcase research, linked to the creative and digital sectors.

The centre is being backed by £2m of funding from Essex County Council and £2m from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Local Growth Fund.

The Knowledge Gateway research and technology park is based on the University of Essex’s Colchester Campus and is becoming the location of choice in the east for knowledge-based science, technology and digital creative companies. The University has invested more than £50m in the Knowledge Gateway which includes the Innovation Centre, Parkside Office Village and Essex Business School.

Oxford Innovation is the market leader in managing flexible workspaces and supporting innovative early stage science and technology SMEs.

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