Multi-million-pound innovation centre showcased

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Senior regional business leaders yesterday visited the University of Leeds to find out how Nexus, its new gateway to world-leading research expertise and infrastructure, will boost economic growth across the Leeds City Region and beyond.

By enabling easier access to the University’s research expertise in key growth sectors, as well as support to foster collaboration and innovation, Nexus aims to help take new ideas from concept to market and drive business growth.

The tour of the new innovation centre, due to open in autumn 2018, enabled senior business leaders to find out about the new facilities, which will offer businesses flexible office and laboratory space, as well as meeting rooms.

It follows £3m of funding from West Yorkshire Combined Authority towards the University’s £40m investment to develop the initiative. The £3m is funded through the Leeds City Region Growth Deal – a £1bn package of government investment to accelerate growth and create jobs across Leeds City Region.

Dr Martin Stow, director of Nexus, said: “We’re here to make it easier for businesses and provide a ‘hardwired’ connection to the expertise at the University of Leeds for companies who want to access ideas, infrastructure and deliver commercial impact.

“The visit is timely as we seek to attract businesses who not only want to base themselves in our outstanding office and laboratory facilities but more importantly, want to take advantage of an environment that will help drive innovation and business growth.”

Leeds-based Creative Space Management has been appointed as commercial letting agent to lease the 40,000 sq. ft. of office and laboratory space, available for occupancy from autumn 2018.

The visitors to Nexus included Roger Marsh, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and member of West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Martin Farrington, Director of City Development at Leeds City Council, and Andrew Wright, Chair of the LEP’s Business, Innovation and Growth Panel.

Marsh said: “Innovation not only brings with it more competitive companies but also increased numbers of jobs and stronger, more sustainable economic growth, all of which are central to the LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan.

“These purpose-built facilities combined with access to world-class academic insight and laboratory space will complement the LEP’s own Access Innovation programme that provides funding and support for businesses who want to develop new products and processes.”

Leeds City Council’s Chief Executive, Tom Riordan, said: “Nexus will be a vital asset in our ambitions for a thriving innovation district, encouraging the sharing of ideas and knowledge, and promoting inward investment to Leeds. It will act as a great catalyst for business creation and economic growth.”

Professor Lisa Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation at the University of Leeds, added: “Showcasing our ambitious future plans for Nexus is important, but it’s also about reiterating the University’s outstanding track record of supporting innovation, licensing and spin-out companies.”

The University has created more than 100 spin-out companies, with a market capitalisation in excess of £500m. Seven of these spin-out companies are market listed on AIM, which is more than any other university in the UK.

The University will also be profiling the Nexus development to an influential audience of investors and occupiers at the global property and economic conference, MIPIM 2018, as part of the Leeds City Region delegation.

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