£20 million funding for Peterborough University ‘Living Lab’ announced in budget

Funding worth £20 million for a ‘Living Lab’ at Peterborough University has been announced in today’s Budget.

By Stephen Briggs
Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 2:08 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 4:05 pm
The levelling up funding was confirmed today
The levelling up funding was confirmed today

The Living Lab will be a new open, interactive science lab and education space to creatively engage people (especially young people) in science and technology, and will be part of the ARU Peterborough Campus.

Peterborough MP Paul Bristow welcomed the news, and said: “This was a Peterborough budget! An extra £20 million for our City to level up .⭐️

“Our university now has the money to move forward, build a new living lab for students and the public, and companies now have the certainty to relocate to our City bringing highly paid jobs to Peterborough.”

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The £28 million Living Lab will also benefit from funding from Anglia Ruskin University, the Combined Authority and Peterborough City Council.

In the bid for the £20 million funding, the city council said; “Public investment is needed because this space is more than simply a visitor destination. Firstly, the Living Lab is beneficial as it will be a community space enabling a range of socially useful activities – evening classes, community group meet-ups, and other learning events. Secondly, the Living Lab will play an essential role in highlighting the impact of local people and businesses in tackling important sustainability challenges, helping to raise awareness and aspirations, and co-create solutions. The LUF prospectus rightly identifies the role of cultural facilities in ‘inspiring a sense of pride and community cohesion’ and the Living Lab will do this.”

Exhibitions and facilities at the Living Lab will explore green technologies, such as vertical farming, renewable energy and green vehicles, in an attempt to make the University’s STEM curriculum more accessible and relevant to city residents.

In Peterborough, only 32 per cent of the population have degree level qualifications, compared to a national average of 43 per cent. The city also ranks 191st out of 324 local authority districts for social mobility, with nearby Fenland ranked 319th.

Councillor Wayne Fitzgerald, leader of Peterborough City Council, said: “This is life-changing news for our city. This investment in a third phase of the soon-to-open ARU Peterborough university will deliver a huge boost to the career opportunities of our future workers.

“By investing in education for our residents and developing the skills we know are needed by local businesses and the businesses of the future, we are investing in the long-term development of our city and the prosperity of coming generations.”

Professor Ross Renton, Principal of ARU Peterborough, said: “This funding will help us deliver a fantastic learning environment not just for our students but the people of the city and region. Providing the city with a first-class university will help increase opportunities, improve social mobility, and provide an economic boost to the local economy.

“Universities should be deeply embedded in their communities and this innovative project aims to do just that, combining state-of-the-art facilities to help improve high-level skills, education and research to support industry in the city while enhancing its cultural offering and creating a real destination for visitors too.”

Nik Johnson, Mayor of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, said: “This is great news for the city, another exciting step forward for ARU Peterborough. I place a very high value on cooperation, and this successful bid owes a lot to collaboration among local leaders and the strong case made to Government.

“The Phase 3 building will add a new, exciting dimension to what ARU Peterborough will offer students, the city and the people who live there. This will offer a new cultural attraction, encouraging people into a thriving University Quarter which will inspire people to learn, including through an innovative Living Lab. I hope it inspires generations of local people into a lifetime of learning.”

Austen Adams, Chairman of the Business Board, said: “Improving skills is one of the core pillars of the Business Board’s ambitious vision for the region. Our investment will repay itself many times over by further expanding the capacity of ARU University to give people the skills they need to thrive in the 21st Century economy.

“By improving skills, we help people into good careers, we support businesses with the skills they need and we will improve the rate and strength of our recovery and regrowth post pandemic. ARU Peterborough has the potential to help local businesses to grow faster, stronger and more sustainably.”Peterborough City Council sought bids from organisations wishing to deliver projects as part of the Levelling up Fund, a £4 billion government funded programme announced in the budget to invest in regeneration, culture and transport schemes across local authorities in the UK.