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Business community to benefit from £1.9 million investment after University Centre Shrewsbury bid

Thursday, February 1, 2018
Members of the CREST team outside Guildhall

The Shropshire business community is set for a £1.9 million boost thanks to a successful bid for European Union funding by University Centre Shrewsbury (UCS).

A new centre is being created at the institution, in partnership with University Centre Reaseheath, to develop and increase the productivity of environmental science and technology businesses in the area.

The Centre for Research into Environmental Science and Technology (CREST) is bringing together a range of experts to help businesses grow and succeed.

They will work with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), in the county, including the Telford and Wrekin area. Support will be provided through research and specialist advice, and helping SMEs to develop innovative ideas and products before bringing them to market. This will include workshops to learn about new technologies and opportunities, and researcher placements.

The Centre is creating jobs directly, including the appointment of business development managers and researchers, and aims to create at least another five jobs in Shropshire by December 2019 as a result of its work.

The £1.97 million project has been made possible by a European Regional Development Fund grant of almost £1.2 million awarded to UCS, via the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, as well as a contribution of almost £800,000 from the University of Chester.

CREST will support businesses offering services and products in areas including: groundwater; contaminated land; bio fuels and energy; flooding and hydrology; ecology; bioscience; air quality; noise and dust pollution and sustainable/smart housing for rural communities

Paul Kirkbright, UCS Deputy Provost, said: “We are thrilled to have secured this funding to contribute to strengthening the county’s business economy and creating new jobs.

“The series of principles underpinning the development of UCS include acting as a catalyst for economic growth, linking into key industrial, environmental and commercial sectors, and alongside this, attracting and retaining talent in the area.

“UCS is already contributing to the vitality of the area by bringing wide-ranging academic and industry experts together under one roof, creating jobs for teaching and support staff, and our hundreds of students are using businesses and services, working and joining organisations locally.

“The creation of the University Centre is enabling the area to benefit from the opportunities that a university creates and this Centre is a further investment for the future of the Shropshire region.”

Jon Britten, CREST Project Manager, added: “It’s important that the region contributes to the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy which is about growing our national income while cutting carbon emissions - and this is a key focus of the Centre.

“Many businesses are not in a position where they can afford to explore new ideas to grow, or may not have even considered that they can benefit from activities such as research and specialist guidance on development and innovation.

“But there is real potential for growth and we’re excited to work closely with businesses and help them take significant steps to ensure they prosper.”

The CREST team offers extensive experience in the area of environmental sciences and business, including: research; project development; business support; owning and running businesses; acting as policy leads and working for and with a wide range of national and international organisations including the European Commission, Environment Agency and DEFRA (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).

Businesses seeking support, or anyone who would like to find out more, can contact Business Development Managers, Simon Burgess at s.burgess@chester.ac.uk or on 07816 306697, or Vicki Ayton at v.ayton@chester.ac.uk or on 07880 784733.

CREST is based at Guildhall in Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury, UCS’s learning and research base.

The Centre will be officially launched with an event at Guildhall on Thursday February 15, 2018. The event, taking place from 6pm to 8pm, will feature a keynote speech from Dr David Gregory-Kumar, Science, Environment and Rural Affairs Correspondent for the BBC in the West Midlands, and presenter for BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today programme. Presentations will also be given by leading academic Professor Roy Alexander and Chair of the Centre’s Industry Advisory Panel, Adrian Platt.

The launch event is free and open to all, but people are asked to book places at https://crestlaunch.eventbrite.co.uk.

A partnership between the University of Chester and Shropshire Council, UCS is a distinctive institution, focused on high-quality teaching and research, fostering entrepreneurship and contributing to the community.

For more information go to ucshrewsbury.ac.uk. Updates on UCS are also available at facebook.com/ucshrewsbury and twitter.com/ucshrewsbury.

Further information

The project is receiving up to £1.2 million of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for the European Regional Development Fund.

Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.

University Centre Reaseheath is one of the leading specialist land-based Higher Education Institutions in the UK and is part of a strategic alliance with the University of Chester. For further information go to www.ucreaseheath.ac.uk.

For more details about the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership see www.marcheslep.org.uk.

To find out more about the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy visit www.gov.uk/government/publications/clean-growth-strategy.