£30M research institute investment

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A £30 million investment to put Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly at the forefront of environmental and climate change technologies was announced today by the South West RDA and the University of Exeter.

The investment – which includes almost £23 million from the ERDF Convergence programme – will enable the University of Exeter to build a world-leading Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) at the Combined Universities in Cornwall’s (CUC) Tremough Campus in Penryn – bringing at least 800 jobs in its wake.

ESI will concentrate on two core areas: making good commercial use of the environmental and sustainability knowledge in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, and creating a world-class research and teaching institution at Tremough to increase that knowledge.

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The investment’s aim is to grow the economy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, creating jobs and wealth by building on existing assets; creating a sustainable cluster of high-value businesses, people, knowledge, investment and research.

Investment for the new project comes from the ERDF Convergence Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, the South West RDA and the university.

Work is due to start in February to create one of the most environmentally-friendly buildings in the UK to house the Institute. It will be ready for occupation in summer 2012.

The ESI will generate world-class research into the causes of environmental change and how to manage its effects. More than 100 top quality academic staff will be recruited to work across three selected themes: clean technologies, natural environment, and socio-economic research.

There is already potential for commercial applications from the base of knowledge being developed in these areas of research in Cornwall and Exeter and one of the unique features of the institute will be the fact that researchers across different disciplines will work together.

To ensure that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly fully exploit the business opportunities from the knowledge generated by ESI, a carefully-designed business support service will be integral to the ESI. It is envisaged that this, combined with investments in Innovation Centres at Pool and Tremough, will see the creation of a thriving cluster of businesses leading the way in the application of these increasingly important technologies and providing high-value jobs.

Professor Steve Smith, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter, said: “This is great news for Cornwall, especially at a time of national cutbacks in public spending. The ESI will build on the University’s research strengths in climate change and environmental science and add critical mass to the Tremough Campus, which we share with University College Falmouth.”

Suzanne Bond, the South West RDA’s executive director of people and skills, said: “This is a major investment in Cornwall’s economy which delivers a step-change in the county’s environmental science and engineering capacity. It builds on Cornwall’s expertise and heritage and, combined with a strong business focus, will deliver at least 800 high-value jobs in energy and clean technologies and related industries.”

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