By Marcus Leach

A new Enterprise Centre — to be built on the Norwich Research Park at the University of East Anglia (UEA) with innovative use of natural materials and the most advanced approaches to low carbon — is set to be a major stimulus to the region’s economy and to the UK low carbon sector.

The announcement of a £6m grant from the European Regional Development Fund (the largest single ERDF grant in the region in the 2007-2015 funding round) means the project can go ahead.

UEA is providing funding of over £6m and £2.5m comes from a £26m government investment in the NRP from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to provide the infrastructure to promote economic growth by commercialising the region’s world-class bioscience research.

The Enterprise Centre will be housed in a new building of up to 4000 square metres, scheduled to be built in 2013 and opened the following year. A design competition will take place with the aim of producing a building that is architecturally distinguished as well as demonstrating the highest levels of energy performance and lowest carbon footprint of any facility yet built.

Project director Dr John French, Chief Executive of the Low Carbon Innovation Centre and of InCrops Enterprise Hub, both based at UEA and part of the new centre, said the project was aiming high.

“This will be a first in the UK University and Business sectors, further advancing UEA’s low carbon credentials and setting new standards in building concept and design through the innovative use of natural materials and bio-based products. It will provide leadership and inspiration to businesses and entrepreneurs,” he said.

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