The Minister was the guest of honour today (Wednesday 25 February) at the official opening of Science Central. He was joined by Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council, and the Vice-Chancellor of Newcastle University, Professor Chris Brink, to commemorate the first phase completion.
To mark the occasion, the Minister laid a commemorative stone in one of the site’s newly developed public areas, Science Square. Originally the Elswick Colliery, and later the home of Scottish and Newcastle Breweries, the 24 acre Science Central is a long-term partnership between Newcastle City Council and Newcastle University, as part of the Newcastle Science City initiative.
Mr Clark later addressed an audience of business leaders in The Core, Science Central’s landmark £11.2m building, which opened in November.
Minister for Universities, Science & Cities, the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP said: “Science Central is a unique city centre development that will not only drive scientific advances and innovation in the region; it will create jobs and a thriving community to grow the North East economy.
“I am delighted to be here today to officially open Science Central and mark the first phase of the development’s completion by laying this commemorative stone.”
Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council said: “Today is a major step forward in the development of Science Central. The joint investments being made here by the City Council and Newcastle University have provided much needed employment opportunities, firstly by creating and safeguarding construction jobs and skills through the recent recession and now by providing state of the art office facilities in the city centre to attract new businesses and jobs.
“This is all part of our vision for putting Newcastle on the map for new and emerging science and technology-based industries. This unique site is being transformed through our investment, which was unlocked by the City Deal that Greg Clark and I signed three years ago, and the rapid progress made in transforming this area since then is testament to the ambition we have, to make Newcastle the best place in the UK for businesses to locate and create the next generation of jobs for the city.”
In January 2015, Newcastle University unveiled its £58 million investment plan for Science Central, which includes a state-of-the-art Urban Sciences Building. This aligns with the ambitions of the partnership to make Newcastle a smart city of the future, with Science Central as a flagship project bringing together academia, the public sector, communities, business and industry to create a global centre for urban innovation in the heart of the city.
Vice-Chancellor of Newcastle University, Professor Chris Brink said: “Our vision and commitment to being a world-class civic university means we do not just look at what we are good at but also what we are good for.
“Over the next four years, we hope to see Science Central grow to become an exemplar of urban sustainability research, bringing together academia, organisations, industry, democracy and communities to develop solutions that will make a difference to people’s lives across the globe.
“Working alongside policy makers, businesses and public organisations, Newcastle University’s plans will put ‘the first science on Science Central’ – the hub for digitally enabled urban sustainability research.”
Mr Clark concluded his visit by joining Andrew Hodgson, Vice-Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, in the signing of the Local Growth Deal - £290 million of investment for the region announced in July 2014, and expanded by a further £40.6 million in January 2015.
Andrew Hodgson, Vice-Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership concluded: "The signing of the North East Growth Deal today marks a milestone in the delivery of our plan for economic growth. The £330mDeal will provide investment for our transport infrastructure, skills, innovation and business support projects, and act as a catalyst to lever in substantial private and public investment delivering more and better jobs for everyone and creating long term growth."
Science Central has been part-funded through the European Union Regional Development Fund 2007-2013 (ERDF) and by the Regional Growth Fund.