20 February 2015

Laboratory planned to foster entrepreneurship and product innovation

The new Central Research Laboratory (CRL), planned for a new mixed-use development at Preston Barracks, is to benefit from £7.7 million in investment from the Local Growth Fund, part of the Greater Brighton Investment Programme.

The CRL will provide shared workspace, prototyping labs and commercial support tailored to the needs of individuals and early stage businesses that design and manufacture innovative physical products. As well as facilities for start-ups, it will offer flexible accommodation for more established, design-led businesses who are struggling to find high quality, flexible space to support their growth. It is expected to create 740 jobs.

The new facility is part of a wider regeneration scheme involving the University of Brighton and developer Cathedral Group. Brighton & Hove City Council is working closely with them to progress the project which will see the development of a key site in the city. Planning permission is expected to be sought in the autumn.

Details of the investment programme for the region were presented to the Greater Brighton Economic Board which met last week. The Board includes members from across Sussex, including councils, universities, businesses and the South Downs National Park Authority and works to promote and secure the area’s local economy for more than 600,000 people.

Brighton & Hove’s leader Jason Kitcat and chair of the Greater Brighton Economic Board, said: “The Central Research Laboratory at Preston Barracks will be a fantastic resource for the city and for entrepreneurs across our region to grow business ideas and develop new products. We’re also looking at how to use the site in the meantime and we’re hoping to be able to offer a programme for people from as early as this summer. We are really excited that this site, which been undeveloped for decades, is being put to good use.” 

FIELD, the temporary on-site programme at Preston Barracks - which kicked off with an eye-catching hoarding around the site - will help establish what is needed by Brighton & Hove's diverse maker community and the ideas generated from FIELD will help to shape the development of the permanent facility. More information on FIELD can be found at www.fieldbtn.com 

The Regional Growth Fund Business Grants Programme has also offered nearly £1 million in grants to 20 companies across the region and attracted private match funding of £5.3 million. The funding will help create 184 jobs in the next two years – 119 more than originally expected.

Other projects included in the investment programme are £7 million towards an advanced engineering centre at the University of Brighton in Moulsecoomb that will train 60 additional engineering graduates a year and more than £10 million for flood defences in Newhaven and Shoreham to support growth in those areas.                                                                                                   

Brighton & Hove’s work to boost the regional economy has also been shortlisted for a Local Government Chronicle award in the ‘Driving Growth’ category. The awards are announced on 11 March.

Read the reports for the Greater Brighton Economic Board here http://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=855&MId=5399