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City and University to Collaborate on Science Park Development

Story supplied by LU Press Office

Plans for development of a new Science Park adjacent to Lancaster University's Bailrigg campus are set to take an important step forward.

Lancaster City Council and Lancaster University have drafted out a 'Memorandum of Understanding' which sets out their respective roles in delivering this project. At the same time, a bid has been made to the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) to secure funding for the next stages of the project.

Details are set out in a report due to go to Cabinet next week, which if approved will see the city council and University sign up to a formal agreement to work together on this project.

The overall aim of the project is to develop a science park next to Lancaster University which "will become an internationally significant centre of excellence for knowledge and technology transfer, innovation, and commercialisation of intellectual property and know how."

The project also aims to showcase low carbon / environmentally sound build construction technology and techniques.

A science park management board would be established, with representatives from the city council, university and the NWDA to steer the development of the project.

The city council's role would be to purchase and own the site and develop core infrastructure.

The university's role would be to provide research and development expertise to occupants of the science park, help attract occupants and stimulate spin-off business activity.

It is expected that the first stage of development, to commence in late 2007, would involve construction of access roads and infrastructure to open up the land for development, together with construction of a 3000 square metre Innovation Centre to house new and expanding technology based companies.

Subject to approval by the NWDA, the next stage of work will involve a feasibility study, detailed design, and market testing, to gauge likely demand and the cost of building the innovation centre.

Professor Paul Wellings, Vice Chancellor of Lancaster University said: "This partnership is of great importance to the local and regional economy, and builds links to the university's major centres of expertise in information technology, environmental research and business leadership and enterprise development, in creating opportunities for the university's cutting edge research, consultancy and other services to benefit businesses of all sizes."

"This is a key strategic project for the city, university, and wider sub-region" added Lancaster City Council's Cabinet member with responsibility for regeneration, Councillor Abbott Bryning. "The university is already one of the most significant factors in our local economy, and has the potential to contribute even more by acting as the focus for development of new, knowledge based businesses. Development of the Science Park will achieve this and stimulate even more economic growth into the future."

Mark Hughes, NWDA Executive Director for Enterprise, Innovation and Skills, said: "The Bailrigg site has been identified as a Strategic Regional Site in the important Northwest Regional Economic Strategy, launched earlier this year. The Memorandum of Understanding is an important next step and establishing market demand for the scheme will be vital in the development of the project."

Tue 25 July 2006