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21:55 on Tuesday
6 May 2003

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Research confirms demand for Innovation Centre

An independent study financed by Greater Peterborough Investment Agency (GPIA) has demonstrated that an innovation centre in Peterborough would be financially viable and would help small knowledge-based companies to start up and grow.

Initial plans for the development of an innovation centre which would provide young high-tech firms with premises and a range of support services were announced last year. The steering group behind the project is in detailed negotiations about finance to build and run the centre and the purchase of a site.

The new study into demand for the centre was undertaken by a team of three executives from St John’s Innovation Centre in Cambridge, led by managing director Walter Herriot.

The team surveyed the current provision of office space for start-up and early-stage companies in Peterborough. It concluded that “there is no current or planned competition for an innovation centre" because existing short-term rental properties do not offer support services - such as access to advisors and investors - that the innovation centre will provide.

The report estimated that around 1,000 new firms start up each year in the Greater Peterborough area. The approximately 6,000 existing businesses are creating around 1,000 new jobs per year and this figure is forecast to rise to around 1,600 over the next few years with the growth coming predominantly from the services sector.

The importance of Peterborough's growing cluster of environmental firms and public sector organisations - which together employ around 4,500 people in the area - is highlighted in the report. The authors conclude that the sector would benefit from having a physical focus such as could be provided by an innovation centre.

The study found that 85 per cent of the companies they surveyed believe that demand exists for an innovation centre. The report concluded that "an innovation centre in Peterborough will be self-sustaining in an acceptable time frame.”

Steering group chairman John Durance said: "Right at the outset, we undertook a study which led us to the view that we should aim for a building which would allow us to offer accommodation to between 60 and 70 small companies. This new study has provided independent confirmation of the scale of demand.

"All that now remains is for the East of England Development Agency to confirm its financial support and we could start building work before the end of this year and have the centre operational by the end of 2003."

Gloria Milne, chief executive of GPIA, said: "The report clearly demonstrates the potential for the innovation centre to be a major force for economic growth in Peterborough, creating high-quality jobs in high-tech businesses."

June 2002




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Peterborough Innovation Centre
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