East Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire has called for £6.5million of central government infrastructure funding and for government-backed technology projects to be located at Exeter Science Park to boost economic growth in the South West.
During a Parliamentary Debate at Westminster Hall on Tuesday 5th February 2019, Sir Hugo asked the Minster for Housing Communities and Local Government, Jake Berry for assistance to repay the loans that were taken out to fund the first phase of development at Exeter Science Park, at a time when grants were not available.
Sir Hugo said: “The case for Exeter Science Park is strong, as it seeks to add more buildings and expand its capacity.” He added: “The main impediment to the business growth of Exeter Science Park is the fact that it has to repay loans on its Science Park Centre.” He added: “The Science Park had to take out loans of £6.5 million—mainly from the local enterprise partnership, at a commercial rate—because grants were unavailable during its start-up phase in 2013. Private sector loans were not available because Exeter Science Park had no assets; they were held in trust by a local authority.”
Exeter Science Park currently provides office and laboratory space for over 400 jobs in the science, technology, engineering maths and medicine sectors in the Science Park Centre and two new Grow-On Buildings. It is anticipated that job numbers will rise to around 3,500 when complete.
Sir Hugo quoted Luminous as a prime example of the extraordinary growth that Exeter Science Park’s clients are already delivering. The start-up, which designs and exports state-of-the-art special effects hardware, has grown from one person to eight in just 12 months.
Explaining the Science Park’s potential to grow and thrive, Sir Hugo said: “The wider region is well connected, with immediate access to the M5, the nearby Exeter international airport and Exeter itself. I represent two wards in Exeter—St Loyes and Topsham—and I am pleased to say it will be one of the UK’s fastest growing cities over the next three years,” added Sir Hugo.
Dr Sally Basker, CEO of Exeter Science Park, said: “We have a bold business plan for Exeter Science Park to deliver extraordinary growth for our STEMM businesses, grow Exeter’s reputation in this sector nationally and internationally and help the wider South West region to prosper. Support from Government will be a real catalyst for further growth”.
Read Sir Hugo’s full speech on economic growth in the South West here.