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East Devon Council to invest £1m in science park

East Devon District Council has agreed to invest £1.1m in a new building at Exeter Science Park, which will create 158 ‘high-value’ jobs and boost the local economy.

The new building will offer 20,000 square feet of space under one roof for growing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) sectors.

According to the council, the funding for the building has been raised against future business rates income from the growing list of businesses seeking to establish offices and laboratories alongside leading regional science and tech companies already based at Exeter Science Park.

‘The Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone is a significant and strategically important development site for the area, with the potential to create over 10,000 jobs,’ said council leader, Ian Thomas.

‘This investment will bring forward the opportunity for up to 158 high-value jobs in the Open Innovation Building for local people as well as boosting the local economy.

‘The £1.1m grant is 15% of the total cost of the building, providing an additional 20,000 square feet of employment space at the Science Park,’ added Cllr Thomas.

‘It means the Open Innovation Building can be ready for occupation in the second half of 2020.’

The Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone is in its second year of operation, with businesses benefiting from Government-funded business rate relief.

In April 2018 the council agreed in principle to borrow up to £8m, with detailed approval for £3.4m of expenditure.

Projects include the launch in September 2018 of an enhanced ConnEXions bus service with free wifi, a park and change site near Exeter Science Park which will be delivered this year, and design work for an upgrade to Long Lane adjacent to Exeter Airport.

‘Exeter Science Park is growing rapidly and is on-track to become a community of around 700 people by 2021,’ said park chief executive, Dr Sally Basker.

‘The Science Park helps innovative STEMM companies to deliver extraordinary growth and this Enterprise Zone grant will help us meet accommodation needs of STEMM businesses – both those already located at the Science Park and new firms wishing to take the next step in their growth journey and create a sustainable business.’

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