Chancellor Rishi Sunak ‘optimistic’ that university will power jobs and prosperity for Peterborough
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has spoken of his confidence in a prosperous future for Peterborough during a whistle-stop tour of the city’s under-construction university.
Mr Sunak joined university chiefs and city politicians to view progress on the £30 million ARU Peterborough currently being built off Bishop’s Road and which is due to open to students next year.
And he said that the university’s prime goal to link pioneering research with businesses could put the city at the forefront of a nationwide drive to integrate cutting edge science with enterprise.
The Chancellor was keen to see how the Peterborough university project has benefited from £20 million of Government cash as part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s nationwide ‘levelling up’ ambition.
The investment will enable the community and 1,700 students to benefit from a new interactive science lab and education space, which will be part of a new University Quarter Cultural Hub that is expected to attract 50,000 visitors a year.
The project is also expected to create 500 jobs.
After the tour, Mr Sunak said: “I am really excited and optimistic about the future of Peterborough’s economic development.
“Business and university leaders feel there is real momentum now in Peterborough because of these investments.
“This has been talked about for years, if not decades, and now it is happening and that should give them the reassurance that the Government is confident in them and is backing them.
“It is fantastic that there is going to be a partnership between the research at the university and business, which means that ultimately more jobs are going to be created and that is what we want to see.”
“We want to see this research translate into new companies, products, services - we want all that to happen here.
“We want young people to grow up and not have to leave Peterborough because they can stay here and have a fantastic job - this is what this investment will do and that’s why I think there is an enormous amount of positivity, confidence and optimism about the future.”
Mr Sunak also urged business leaders to get involved with shaping the university.
He said: “University leaders are very passionate about working very closely with business.
Mr Sunak said: “The university has been designed to integrate research with business. When I think about overall Government policy I feel this is something we really need to do better in this country.
“Peterborough could be at the forefront of this - it is doing all the right things.
“This country is a world leader in research but where we need to get better is the later stage research that is focused on working with business and bringing all those interesting ideas to market, turning them into new products, services, companies and jobs.
“That is the bit where we need to focus a bit of extra attention and I am delighted that is where the focus is in Peterborough.”
Ross Renton, the principal of ARU Peterborough, said the university was vital to driving the ‘levelling up’ of the city.
He said: “When you look at the educational attainment levels in Peterborough and those progressing to higher education compared to the south of the county, it is really stark.
“We are in the bottom 10 per cent here in Peterborough, the top 10 per cent in the south of Cambridgeshire.
“So what we need to do is to level up the north.
“We need to make sure we are investing in high technology, manufacturing, and industry and making sure we get the high skills that really support this.
“We have more than 110 companies that have helped co-design what we are doing and making sure our curriculum is relevant.
He added: “I was delighted to have the Chancellor visit us. Having £20 million to help accelerate the programme of the university is vital.
“We need a proper campus university here in Peterborough to impact on the economy.”
Peterborough MP Paul Bristow said: “The Chancellor has visited Peterborough to see levelling up in action.
“The fact he has come to see the buildings going up and the potential this could have for Peterborough is really important.
“It shows the Government sees the potential of Peterborough.”
Councillor Wayne Fitzgerald, leader of Peterborough City Council, said: “It is fantastic to have the Chancellor in Peterborough.
“It is a great to have the funding from the Government and I am going to speak to him about getting even more funding.”