Basildon innovation project set to receive £870,000

A project to create an “innovation warehouse” in Basildon is set to be awarded £870,000 – almost half of the funding it requires.

Basildon Council has pledged to provide the additional funding of £1.2million to create the Basildon Innovation Warehouse in the Green Centre, which it owns, in Wat Tyler Country Park.

South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), is due to agree the funding package when it meets next week subject to planning permission and the final third of the 2020/21 Local Growth Fund allocation being transferred by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government to SELEP.

The finished project, aimed at supporting entrepreneurs and innovators in the area, will remain in the ownership of BBC; however, a 10-year management contract will be entered into with an experienced operator. This contract will be managed by the council’s growth service, which will later be converted into a community interest company (CIC) which will take over the contract management.

A SELEP report says the project will support an “inspiring and creative environment for start-ups” while providing access to specialist facilities and equipment such as 3D printers.

It will also provide “affordable and flexible accommodation” and links to key businesses in the area.

Although based in Basildon, the centre will operate an open-door policy to entrepreneurs from across the Thames Gateway.

SELEP has also helped support the University of Essex knowledge gateway project, which is expected to create hundreds of jobs.

The SELEP report adds: “The project seeks to offer the kind of high-tech innovation required for tailored support, of a type that goes beyond traditional business support packages.

“Key for these early stage enterprises is the ability to network and collaborate, with appropriate space and kit to develop new products and relevant support and mentoring.

“The demand for coworking/supported/creative spaces have seen a marked increase in recent years, with the move to more virtual teams within businesses, the advent of cloud based working practices and the desire to collaborate more openly with entrepreneurial peers.

“This type of ‘innovation’ centre engages individuals with ideas for new products and supports their development through access to equipment and facilitated links to advisors, potential partners and funders. This support is increasingly vital to the growth of STEM innovation.”

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter