Bristol and Bath Science Park officially opened for business

Bristol and Bath Science Park (SPark) - The Forum

South Gloucestershire Council has welcomed the launch of SPark, the Bristol and Bath Science Park, following its official opening by the Rt Hon David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, on Monday 26th September.

The 59-acre site in Emersons Green is set to become a new powerhouse for research and development in the region creating an anticipated 6,000 highly-skilled jobs.

Council leader John Calway said:

“South Gloucestershire is already home to many of the region’s most innovative and high-tech companies and [its] launch is very welcome.”

“I look forward to seeing SPark flourish as a hotbed for cutting-edge innovation and enterprise, bringing even more new, high-quality jobs to our local economy.”

“South Gloucestershire Council’s planning team has worked hard with SPark’s developers to help realise this landmark project and will continue to do so in the future.”

Bristol is one of six Science Cities in England, recognising its many achievements in world class scientific research, innovation and development. The other Science Cities designated by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, in 2005 are Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and York.

To date, Bristol has been the only Science City in the country not to have a science park and creating one is a major step forward in promoting the region’s concentration of highly-skilled people as well as creating a hotbed for future innovation.

Bristol and Bath Science Park (SPark) - The garden

Mr Willetts said:

“I am delighted to be opening the new Bristol and Bath Science Park. It will bring together universities and businesses and make the most of the region’s strengths in research, helping to create new products, companies and jobs. I hope it will rapidly become a key driver of growth and innovation.”

“The Science Park will be the hub for the region’s many science and technology businesses, connecting entrepreneurs, fledgling businesses and established brands with vital investors, academia and design.”

Bonnie Dean, Chief Executive at the Bristol and Bath Science Park, added:

“The region’s strengths in scientific research, technology and the creative industries, all of which come together at the Park, should make it a magnet for entrepreneurs and ambitious companies. The Science Park will also be a flexible and professional hub for collaboration between industry and academia.”

“This is a momentous day for everyone involved in the Park and the region.”

“The capital invested to date by the South West RDA and Quantum Property Partnership has been significant, but the most important investment has been from the many individuals who have persisted in helping us reach this stage. The next new, exciting chapter starts now.”

Kate Bellingham chats to David Willetts at the SPark opening

During the opening speeches, Mr Willietts talked about the importance of innovation to the UK’s economy and took part in an on-stage conversation with Kate Bellingham, a former presenter of Tomorrow’s World.

The Minister then unveiled three glass sculptures to mark the official opening of the buildings at the Emersons Green site.

The sculptures have been created by internationally renowned and Bristol-based artist Luke Jerram, and represent three different viruses – Smallpox, HIV and an Untitled Future Mutation. The artworks will be permanently installed inside the inspirational centrepiece of the Park – The Forum.

Bristol and Bath Science Park - Glass sculptures

Luke Jerram, who also installed the celebrated ‘Play me, I’m Yours’ street pianos in Bristol and around the world, said:

“I believe that science and creativity are inter-connected and this philosophy runs throughout the Science Park. It’s exciting to have my sculptures in this space, where science, art and design will come together to inspire organisations at the Park as well as the wider community.”

The Science Park project has been designed, developed and managed by Quantum Property Partnership – a joint venture between Quintain Estates and Development plc and Aviva Investors. The South West RDA, set to close by March 2012, invested £40m which was instrumental in unlocking the project. This was the Agency’s largest single investment in the South West.

The Universities of Bath, Bristol and the West of England are key stakeholders in the science park.

The Homes and Communities Agency is now responsible for working with Quantum to develop the park. It will be managed as part of a stewardship partnership agreement with the Government covering three nationally important technology parks, including the Bristol and Bath Science Park, Ansty Park in Coventry and the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham.

The first three buildings at the Park are the Forum, Innovation Centre and Expansion Space. The Forum, which is open to the public, provides a social heart for the park, with space to meet, eat, collaborate and network.

The Innovation Centre provides companies with the space they need to grow on flexible terms, accommodating their swiftly changing needs. It includes serviced office space, conference facilities, high bandwidth and excellent communications.

The Expansion Space (also known as the Grow-On Space) will provide another 25,000 sq ft of space for larger businesses. It is ideal for companies that need flexible terms as well as the support of a lively business community.

The National Composites Centre, Bristol

The Science Park is already home to the National Composites Centre, which is supported by the University of Bristol. The Centre brings together companies and academics to develop new methods for the rapid manufacture of high value composite products, which is a major growth opportunity for the UK.

In March this year, the Government announced that the National Composites Centre is to be a partner in one of the country’s first Technology Innovation Centres (TICs). This is an indication of the strength of the region’s research and manufacturing capability in advanced materials.

More photos from the official opening: album; slideshow (PicasaWeb)

Related link: Bristol and Bath Science Park (South Glos Post)

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