The Manufacturing and Materials Research and Development Centre forms the second phase of Peterborough’s new £30 million university.
Business and civic leaders gathered for a ‘spades in the ground’ ceremony to mark the beginning of the building work on the R&D hub, which stands just metres from the main educational phase of the university, which is on schedule for completion in July.
The new centre will have 2,800 square metres of flexible research space over three floors and is a joint initiative between triple Queen’s Award winning Photocentric, based in Oxney Road, and the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority.
Photocentric is investing £3 million in the R&D centre and will move into the premises in January 2023, while the Combined Authority’s business board has allocated £13.7 million from the Government’s Getting Building Fund.
In addition, the university has received £20 million of funding from the Government’s ‘levelling up’ fund.
Combined Authority Mayor, Dr Nik Johnson, said: “This is going to give us a research and development centre working with Photocentric that is going to attract more inward investment into this area.
“It will work alongside the educational establishment of the university to create the opportunities for training, education, and in the course of time more jobs, highly skilled jobs for the people of Peterborough.
“It will be something of which we can be proud.
He added: “This is money well spent.
“There are many worthy things money can be spent on but on this occasion, through the levelling up fund, from central government funds, I think this is going to be money well spent.
“It will pay dividends time and time again. We know that when new universities open in cities they bring real options and benefits.
“This is going to be one of the most defining moments in the history of Peterborough.”
The R&D centre will link with local businesses and help inspire collaboration and innovation in a range of materials technologies, including 3D printing research, sustainable plastics, and new ways to make batteries.
The building will host established and start-up companies in support of the development of new technologies linked to advanced manufacturing.
Managing director of Photocentric, Paul Holt, who won the Business Person of the Year award at the Peterborough Telegraph Business Excellence Awards 2021, said: “This is a superb opportunity for Peterborough to transform itself for the purpose of high tech manufacturing.
“We can be making high tech products on the outskirts of the city and designing and innovating here.
“We can inspire students and companies can easily come here and train staff.
“Companies can carry out research here much more conveniently than in Cambridge and we create the manufacturing jobs on the outskirts of the city - that’s the vision.”
Professor Ross Renton, principal of ARU Peterborough, said: “The start of construction of the research and development centre marks an important step for ARU Peterborough and the city as a whole, as attracting cutting-edge companies and research organisations to Peterborough is vital for our future economic success.”