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United front to bring £30m research institute to Peterborough

Proposals could generate £160 million of private investment over 10 years

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From tiny seeds, grow mighty trees and there was an abundance of the former as political differences were put aside to promote Anglia Ruskin University as a candidate for a £30m research and development institute for sustainable energy.

MP Paul Bristow raised the potential bid in Parliament last July and yesterday he was joined by Mayor Dr Nik Johnson, city council leader Cllr Mohammed Farooq and university principal, Professor Ross Renton to showcase the proposals.

Outline plans for The Global Innovation Centre for Energy Transition were presented by TWI, the Cambridge-based engineering consultancy and research organisation, at a House of Commons reception hosted by Mr Bristow.

The proposed research facility and associated programme of research and development focuses on new technologies for the safe transmission, distribution, and use of hydrogen into both industrial and domestic use.

The new institute would also work on technology for the safe storage of hydrogen and carbon dioxide (CO2), as well sustainable fuels for aviation.

The proposals position the Global Innovation Centre at the core of a high growth energy ‘cluster’, around which it is aimed to bring together large energy companies and a consortium of domestic industrial high energy users such as steel, glass, and concrete producers.

In his Parliamentary speech last year, Mr Bristow said the new university in Peterborough “has provided an essential component for an innovation ecosystem investing in human capital to improve higher level skills to meet local economic needs, as well as providing vital interactions between businesses and higher education.

“A new research institute on top of that university is now needed to build on those developments and to raise demand for higher skilled jobs in the local economy.

From left, Leader of Peterborough City Council Cllr Mohammed Farooq, John Hill, Director of Technology and Strategy for TWI, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Dr Nik Johnson and ARU Peterborough Principal Prof Ross Renton. Picture: Peterborough City Council

Top L to R : Paul Bristow MP for Peterborough ; Andrew Bowie MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero and ARU Principal Professor Ross Benton. Bottom: L to R: Leader of Peterborough City Council Cllr Mohammed Farooq and Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Dr Nik Johnson. Picture: Peterborough City Council

“It would attract global firms and connect research and industry via a bespoke facility and R&D programme that could translate research into practice in the local economy”.

Mr Bristow added: “A global innovation centre for energy transition at Peterborough has the potential to leverage significant economic benefits for Peterborough and the UK as a whole.

“The investment proposals are expected to generate £160 million of private investment over 10 years from 2025.”

Following yesterday’s launch, Dr Johnson said: “Strong partnership working with the city council and Anglia Ruskin University has delivered the ARU Peterborough campus we see today, and we want to build on that success.

“It is welcome to see outline proposals to develop the campus further aired at this Parliamentary event, and Government support will be so important in unlocking the future phases of ARU Peterborough.

“The plans have added relevance with urgent need for new technologies to help the country and the world shift to a net zero carbon future to defend against climate change. I look forward to seeing how these plans develop.”

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Cllr Farooq said: “This event marks a pivotal moment in our city’s journey towards a more sustainable future.

“The outline business case isn’t just about numbers, it’s about the shared vision and commitment of all partners to turn aspirations into reality.

“As we look to further develop the ARU Peterborough campus, the proposed plans for an energy transition centre would provide a central beacon of innovation for the city and wider economy, supporting new and emerging industries and technologies, as it continues to grow.”

Professor Renton said: “We welcome this outline proposal that seeks to further support the growth of the university in Peterborough.

“We are pleased that ARU Peterborough has had an impressive start-up period – earning a range of national accolades and commendations – and our long-term vision has always included the establishment of an industrial research facility, which would work in collaboration with the university.

“This proposal could bring this vision a step closer.”

Yetserday’s launch was also attended by other MPs and representatives from industry including Andrew Bowie MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner, Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman, and Lord Jackson of Peterborough.

From left, Leader of Peterborough City Council Cllr Mohammed Farooq, John Hill, Director of Technology and Strategy for TWI, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Dr Nik Johnson and ARU Peterborough Principal Prof Ross Renton. Picture: Peterborough City Council

From left, Leader of Peterborough City Council Cllr Mohammed Farooq, John Hill, Director of Technology and Strategy for TWI, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Dr Nik Johnson and ARU Peterborough Principal Prof Ross Renton. Picture: Peterborough City Council

They heard that the core objectives of the Global Innovation Centre are to:

  • Accelerate the UK’s transition towards a greener, low-carbon economy, thereby achieving net-zero ambitions and energy security.
  • To develop an innovation ecosystem in Peterborough to drive productive growth in new industries and technologies.
  • To increase higher-skilled employment opportunities focused on global net zero transformation.
  • To increase the skill levels of local people by continuing to align the ARU Peterborough curricula with industry needs.

The proposals describe a potential ten-year research and development programme that could be worth up to £150 million, the creation of hundreds of new jobs, and generating tens of millions of economic growth in the local economy.

Mr Bristow was buoyant after the launch and said today it had the potential to bring high paid, high skills jobs to Peterborough.

But he also pointed out Peterborough was “competing with Texas!  It could mean 9,000 jobs, and really put our city on the map”.

He added that if the city is successful in its bid it could “guarantee our future health, wealth and happiness, and make Peterborough a leader in energy transition”.

Following the launch event, the partners will continue to work with TWI – which describes itself as one of the world’s foremost independent research and technology organisations- to explore the case for the proposals, including engaging with Government.

 

 

 

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