A ground-breaking ceremony has marked the start of construction on the Aura Innovation Centre (AIC) at Bridgehead business park.
The centre will provide both large businesses and small and medium-sized enterprises with space to collaborate and innovate, working with the University of Hull and other partners. The centre’s work will support the development of low-carbon energy industries and clean growth, building on the Humber’s reputation as the UK’s Energy Estuary.
The event was timed to coincide with Green Great Britain Week, which highlights the opportunities clean growth offers the UK and aims to raise understanding of how business and the public can contribute to tackling climate change.
Hull West and Hessle MP Emma Hardy, whose constituency includes Bridgehead, broke ground at the site to mark the start of construction of the centre, which is expected to be completed at the end of 2019.
She said: “I am absolutely delighted to be present at the start of what I hope will be a tangible and practical enterprise to grow low-carbon industry here in the Humber.
“The timing is perfect as Green Great Britain Week highlights the benefits clean growth can bring to all parts of society – from new jobs to cleaner air. I hope this will become a reality for us here in the Energy Estuary over the coming years.”
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 will provide a collaborative space to foster innovation and research to address the challenges faced by the offshore wind and low-carbon energy industries. It will also focus on developing and rooting an effective low-carbon energy supply chain in the Humber, supporting the region’s regeneration and contributing to clean growth, which is central to the UK’s Industrial Strategy.
The centre has gained funding of £12 million from the European Regional Development Fund, GreenPortHull and match funding from the University of Hull.
Dr Richards said: “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.”
The fast-growing Bridgehead business park is owned and developed by Hull-based regeneration company Wykeland Group. It is home to a community of blue chip businesses, with almost 1,000 employees now based at Bridgehead.
Wykeland Managing Director Dominic Gibbons said: “We are delighted the University of Hull has decided to locate 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.
“As one of the UK’s greenest business parks, it’s also the perfect place for a facility focused on cementing the Humber’s status as the UK’s green energy hub.”
Matthew Wright, UK Managing Director for global offshore wind leader Ørsted, who was also 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.”
Also present at the ceremony was Ray Thompson, Head of Business Development at Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, who 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.”