The University of Wolverhampton Science Park has been supporting businesses from science, technology, knowledge-based and creative sectors through every stage of their development for over two decades and has become known as one of the region’s most vibrant technology communities.
The geographical site has had close links to industry and enterprise, employing significant numbers from the local community for many years. The previous occupant of the site was the Electric Construction Company (ECC) who started construction of the first purpose-built factory for electrical engineering construction works in 1888. The site covered 23 acres and employed over 700 people in 1895. The works closed in 1985, were demolished in 1986, and replaced by the development of Phase 1 of the current Science Park in 1994, after 2 years of land remediation. Further expansion of the current Science Park occurred in 2000 and again in 2004.
With the Black Country area still having some economic performance statistics below the national average, the concept of Smart Specialisation has been adopted by the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership to address this. The result is a regional focus on sectors such as aerospace, automotive, construction and life sciences. The University of Wolverhampton is well positioned with research, knowledge-exchange programmes and student/graduate placements applicable to these sectors to help businesses capitalise on this focus. The University’s recent £21M investment in the Rosalind Franklin science centre will develop science-based graduates that can help firms exploit opportunities in these Smart Specialisation sectors. However, the Black Country is limited in access to the high quality workshop and laboratory space required to attract inward investment by firms in these sectors.
The new Science, Technology and Prototyping Centre, due for completion in Summer 2017, will address this need for appropriate business infrastructure and accommodation. This latest phase of development at the Science Park will provide Category 1 & 2 laboratories, workshops and offices. The result, unrivalled specialist space for scientific-based businesses wanting to develop and enhance their research and development activities, supported by the University of Wolverhampton’s research, academic and graduate expertise – helping to provide a real competitive edge for businesses via collaboration. The new £10.1M facility is funded by the University of Wolverhampton and a £4.8M grant from the Black Country Growth Deal.