Council teams up with uni to buy science park
SOUTH Gloucestershire council has teamed up with a nearby university to buy the Bristol & Bath Science Park for £18 million.
The 36-acre park, on Dirac Crescent, Emersons Green, includes the National Composites Centre and Forum exhibition and conference facility and has been open since 2011 - but still has large areas yet to be developed.
South Gloucestershire has bought the site jointly with Bath University, which has already been awarded £38.9m towards the £60m cost of building a new hi-tech development, the Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems, at the park. The IAAPS is expected to eventually create 1,900 new jobs.
A council spokesperson said that, of the authority’s £14.2m share of the cost, almost £5.8m was coming from the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership’s Economic Development Fund. The £8.4m balance, he said, would come from “prudential borrowing” with the repayments expected to be met from income generated by the park.
The park was previously owned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Since it was first proposed in 1986, some £300m is believed to have been spent on the park.
The new owners say they will use their complementary strengths, expertise and networks to “fully realise the park’s potential as a centre of excellence for research and development across the region”.
Among their aims are to maximise the potential of the National Composites Centre, create a new centre called GO2 and support more small and medium enterprises at the Forum.
The IAAPS is intended to become “a world-leading centre of excellence for research into future advanced propulsion systems”, using the university’s engineering expertise to help the UK motor industry.
South Gloucestershire Council leader Toby Savage said: “The Science Park in Emersons Green is a world-class centre for science and technology businesses to grow and prosper and is already home to a wide variety of innovative and inspirational start-ups.
“Having purchased we will give it a new lease of life and ensure that it is fully developed. Not only will we grow the opportunities for growth, we will also generate a commercial return that will feed into Council coffers, which will support our ongoing efforts to deliver a balanced budget as well as the value for money services that our residents demand.”