A total funding of £18.8 million has been agreed to create a 35,000 sq ft Skills & Innovation Centre at Gateway 14 in Stowmarket.

Mid Suffolk District Council’s plan for the three-storey centre at the park, a joint venture between Jaynic council-owned Gateway 14 Ltd which is part of the Freeport East site, includes office space for high growth start-ups, collaboration spaces, training and meeting rooms, as well as a café.

Freeport East agreed £16.66m towards the state-of-the-art centre in March, and on May 14, Mid Suffolk’s Cabinet agreed an updated funding strategy to meet the remaining costs.

Steve Beel, chief executive for Freeport East, said: “We are pleased to witness the excellent progress at Gateway 14, where sustainability lies at the heart of the development vision.

“The Skills and Innovation Centre would not be possible without the funding mechanisms made available by the freeport model, but it is the close and collaborative working between Mid Suffolk District Council, Gateway 14 and Freeport East that drives this success.

“The new centre, along with other recent announcements, significantly strengthens our ability to market the Stowmarket and Mid Suffolk area to various companies, both in the UK and internationally. This positions our region as one of the top choices for inward investment in the UK.”

Cllr Andy Mellen, Mid Suffolk District Council leader, said: “This is a significant moment for what is a really exciting project. This centre will create a fantastic talent pipeline for local businesses – with a particular focus on the green economy, digital and AI technology.

“Crucially, it will bring businesses and training together in the same centre. This will not only help bridge the skills gap, it will help firms to grow and innovate, and encourage more inward investment.”

Mid Suffolk is working in partnership with West Suffolk College and the universities of Suffolk and Essex on the skills centre project, which will now go into the pre-planning and technical design phase.

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