£8m funding announced for skills and innovation projects

April 5, 2019

Funding totalling more than £8m has been secured for two new projects which will boost skills, innovation and productivity in Suffolk.

The money comes from New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) Capital Growth programme, which has a specific focus on delivering the ambitions of the Economic Strategy for Norfolk and Suffolk. The Strategy sets ambitious targets for the area, including growing our £35bn economy by £17.5bn in real terms by 2036, creating 88,000 new jobs and 30,000 successful new businesses and making measurable improvements to skills, productivity and inclusion in the two counties.

Following detailed analysis of the LEP’s Capital Growth Programme to date, the call for new projects was given a specific focus on the themes of Skills, Innovation and Productivity. As with all calls for Capital Growth Funding, projects have been independently appraised using a comprehensive range of criteria. The projects to receive funding are:

  • University of Suffolk: Digital Skills & Innovation Accelerator. £6.497m. Establishment of a new, nationally significant ICT research and training centre, combining high quality academic capabilities, world-leading industrial research and development. 1,600 m² of space focussed on education and growth in the regional digital economy to enhance productivity in sectors which use ICT as a key enabler. The centre will leverage the capabilities of the University of Suffolk, BT and the Adastral Park tech cluster. Projected outputs: 520 new learners (level 6+),145 apprentices (level 6+), 36 new jobs
  • Suffolk New College: Digital & Technology Skills Hub. £1.6m. To provide new skills for local SMEs seeking to increase their digital capability. The Hub will offer a range of courses and also provide the building blocks for individuals to progress into Higher Education and Higher-Level Apprenticeships. A new 462m² building will be located near to the College’s current campus in Ipswich and so will benefit from the existing support services in the College. Projected outputs: 264 new students, 28 new apprentices, 7FT and 5PT jobs.

These projects were chosen alongside two in Norfolk from a wider field of very strong applications. The LEP has contacted a number of unsuccessful projects, offering to work with them to help source alternative funding.

New Anglia LEP has been allocated £290m in Capital Growth Funding through its Growth Deal with Government. Since 2014, the Growth Deal has helped to fund more than 30 projects across Norfolk and Suffolk since 2014, ranging from infrastructure and flood defences to innovation centres and business support programmes. This total investment is forecast to attract £628m extra investment over the next ten years.  More information on the LEP’s Growth Deal with Government, including current projects and FAQs, can be found at newanglia.co.uk/growth-deal/.

Speaking following funding approval for the new projects at the LEP’s board meeting today, LEP chair Doug Field said: “Through its Growth Deal with Government, New Anglia LEP has been entrusted to make investments providing the infrastructure, skills and innovation that will supercharge our economy.

“The targets set out in the Norfolk and Suffolk Economic Strategy are ambitious, and it is only through collaboration with partners in business, the public and education sectors that we can achieve them.

“The quality of the business case put forward for each of these four projects put them ahead of a host of other strong applications. I believe each will make a lasting and telling contribution to achieving the aims of our Economic Strategy.”

Paul Winter, chair of the New Anglia Skills Board, said: “These projects represent a huge boost for our skills ambitions in Norfolk and Suffolk – not just for the high-skilled workers they’ll produce for our businesses, but also for the direct business collaborations they’ll promote.

“Evidence gathered for our Digital Tech Sector Skills Plan tells us our two counties will need 10,000 new highly skilled workers in the sector by the middle of the next decade. But that number quadruples when you include skilled digital jobs serving other sectors. These projects will help address that need with leading edge resources, whilst also providing the environment for our next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs to thrive.”