Green GB Week kicks-off in the Energy Estuary with the ground breaking ceremony for the Aura Innovation Centre (AIC) at Bridgehead Business Park in Hessle. The Centre, which has obtained funding of £12 million from the European Regional Development Fund, Regional Growth Fund Green Port Growth Programme and match funding from the University of Hull, is set to provide large businesses and SMEs with the space to collaborate and innovate to deliver low-carbon energy and clean growth.
Hull West and Hessle MP, Emma Hardy, in whose constituency the AIC will be built, ‘broke ground’ at the site at Bridgehead to mark the start of construction of the Centre, which is expected to be completed at the end of 2019. The event was hosted by Lord Prescott, who has long championed the push towards meeting climate change commitments in the UK and globally, and Dr David Richards, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Business & Research at the University of Hull.
The Aura Innovation Centre is about providing practical support to SMEs to develop their products and services to meet the low-carbon agenda and to provide a collaborative space to facilitate the involvement of academia and large business in one space. Its aim is to foster innovation and research to address the real challenges faced by the offshore wind and low-carbon energy industries. It will also be about developing and rooting an effective low-carbon energy supply chain in the Energy Estuary with the ultimate goal of regenerating a region and contributing to clean growth, which is central to the UK’s Industrial Strategy.
Emma Hardy MP said: “I am absolutely delighted to be present at the start of what I hope will be a tangible and practical enterprise to grow the low-carbon industry here in the Humber. I am particularly delighted that the Aura Innovation Centre is to be located in my constituency. The timing is perfect as Green Great Britain week is launched on Monday to highlight the benefits clean growth can bring to all parts of society – from new jobs to cleaner air. I hope that this will become a reality for us here in the Energy Estuary over the coming years. Dr David Richards added: “As the anchor institution in the region, the University of Hull is a strong supporter of Clean Growth and our financial commitment to the Aura Innovation Centre demonstrates that we mean business. The offshore wind industry and wider low-carbon energy sector is a real opportunity to transform the prospects of this region and the lives of those who live and work in the Energy Estuary. I am looking forward to seeing the Centre completed in a year’s time and to see innovation and research turn a vision into reality.”
Lord Prescott said: “Climate Change is one of the greatest threats to the planet and our economy. A lot has changed for the good since my involvement with the Kyoto Treaty 20 years ago and there is still a lot to do. The development of the Aura Innovation Centre here in the Humber is another incremental change to moving towards a low-carbon future and clean growth economy. I am very pleased to see how we are making progress right here in the Energy Estuary.”
Matthew Wright, UK Managing Director for Ørsted and present at the ceremony, said:
“The Aura Innovation Centre can make a real difference in driving innovation across the offshore wind industry. Offshore wind is already a huge UK success story and it can be the backbone of our future energy system as we continue to bring down costs and build projects at scale.
“We must keep innovating to continue the momentum in the sector, and this fantastic facility in the Humber will help SMEs to develop leading products and services to drive our clean growth ambitions in the UK.”
Ben George, Director of Aura, said: “This is an exciting day for the Aura Team – a lot of hard work has gone into bringing the Aura Innovation Centre about and making today happen. The work has already started and the Centre – when it opens next year – will just enhance what we are already working on.”
Also present at the ceremony, Ray Thompson, Head of Business Development at Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, said: “Today’s event demonstrates what can be achieved when key industry players come together with SMEs and forward thinking universities like Hull to collaborate for the benefit of the whole industry. I am delighted to see the plans we talked about three years ago becoming a reality and I look forward to walking through the doors of the Centre in a year’s time.”
Dominic Gibbons, Managing Director Wykeland (the owners and developers of Bridgehead business park) said: “We are delighted the University of Hull has decided to locate the Aura Innovation Centre at Bridgehead and we are looking forward to delivering the physical facility in partnership with them over the coming months.
“The start of construction of the AIC is another milestone in the development of Bridgehead business park. It reinforces Bridgehead’s reputation as the location of choice for industry-leading companies and facilities of vital importance to the economy of the region, such as Aura”.
When opened, the AIC will have a number of different areas and facilities. It will include Business Areas and Solutions Areas as well as meeting spaces and research zones. The equipment in the Solutions Areas will range from lasers, high spec 3D printers, big data super computer access through to metals and plastics testing equipment and product development facilities. As the centre grows, the aim is to provide SMEs with support and advice through each of the stages of product or service development – from ideas generation through to R&D, testing, analysis and taking the product to market.