The Midlands Engine is going interstellar thanks to plans for a new Enterprise Zone to support the UK’s space science industry, Local Government Minister Marcus Jones has confirmed.
Plans have been unveiled for the development of a new Science and Innovation Enterprise Zone which will cover three sites across Leicester and Loughborough, and aims to deliver 6,500 new jobs by building on the local area’s expertise in the sector.
Leicester is already home to the National Space Centre and the new Zone is now hoping to attract space-age businesses to the area with the offer of specialist research and development facilities to bring innovative ideas and products to market.
New and expanded businesses located there are set to benefit from business rate reliefs worth tens of thousands of pounds each year, an incentive set to pull in more investment into the region and boost the local economy.
The new Enterprise Zone will cover 160 hectares at Loughborough Science and Energy Park, Charnwood Campus and Leicester Waterside. It forms a key part of the government’s efforts to fire up the Midlands Engine, and create an economy that works for everyone in all parts of the country.
Visiting Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park, local government minister Marcus Jones, said: "Leicester and Loughborough have a strong track record in the science and innovation industries, so we’re determined to support the area by attracting new businesses.
"This new Enterprise Zone will help secure as many as 6,500 jobs for people right at the heart of the Midlands Engine and the site has real potential to rocket to the top of the space science field.
"I’ve seen first hand the new zone’s ambitious plans to boost local growth, which forms an essential part of the government’s commitment to create an economy that works for everyone."
Nick Pulley, chair of the Leicester and Loughborough Enterprise Partnership, added: "Confirmation of this second Enterprise Zone will make Leicester and Leicestershire extremely attractive to science, innovation and hi-tech manufacturing companies looking for research facilities and industrial and office space to base and expand their businesses.
"We have already seen this model working brilliantly at MIRA Technology Park in the automotive sector and we will look to replicate this in the science, innovation and hi-tech manufacturing sectors.
"Together, the Enterprise Zones give us 4 specialist commercial sites that really enable us to cement our distinctive place as the research and development capital of the Midlands.
"I hope that the government now backs our Growth Deal bid and provides the funding needed to invest in the infrastructure to accelerate development on these sites."
When the Leicester and Loughborough zone launches in April, it will be one of 48 zones across the country and will build on the success of the Midlands’ existing zones.
Since their launch in 2012, the six zones in the Midlands have attracted 9,000 jobs, 120 companies and secured £1.1bn private sector investment.