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Oxford University’s commitment to entrepreneurship has taken a major new step, with the opening of its new science enterprise hub, the Begbroke Innovation Accelerator.

Part-funded by the Oxford and Oxfordshire City Deal, the new building was officially opened on March 17th at Begbroke Science Park (BSP), by Nicola Blackwood MP, Minister for Public Health and Innovation.

An extension to Begbroke’s Centre for Innovation and Enterprise, the new multi-use building will help small and medium-sized science businesses to take their projects to market. The building which has had significant interest and is already 60 per cent occupied, will also provide facilities for researchers from the University developing new innovative products and technologies. The site’s primary focus will be on the advanced engineering sectors of automotive, nuclear materials, advanced materials, robotics, as well as in nano-medicine, pharmaceuticals, energy storage and supercomputing.

The facility builds on local success integrating the city’s academic and business communities, and further fuels Oxford’s emergence as a tech cluster.

The Innovation Accelerator will benefit from BSP's successful cross-disciplinary approach, bringing business and technology closer together in one location as well as supporting their incubation needs, providing training, networking and mentoring activities. BSP now hosts over 20 different academic research groups and over 30 science based start-up companies from across the physical and medical science sectors.

Science and enterprise is at the heart of Oxfordshire’s economy and the Innovation Accelerator means we will be even better placed to meet the needs of emerging businesses and continue to thrive - Nicola Blackwood MP

Speaking at the opening event, Professor Ian Walmsley, Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Oxford said: 'The city’s growing reputation as a powerhouse of entrepreneurial activity, where new businesses can be nurtured by mentors and thrive in their own right, is key to the University’s appeal to new students and researchers. Oxfordshire ranks among the world’s top five 'hotspots' for innovation, and we are committed to maintaining this position with the continued delivery of transformative, far-reaching research. We look forward to supporting new scientific talent and enterprises as they grow from this development.'

Announced in January 2014, the Oxford City Deal confirmed a £30m Government commitment to scientific research excellence, with new innovation centres and startup incubation space, at the University, Culham and Harwell sites to be partly funded by the state. Begbroke Innovation Accelerator is one of the regional innovation centres funded through the programme, in partnership with Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP).

At the event, the Chair of OxLEP, Jeremy Long, launched the refreshed Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) for Oxfordshire. The new Plan updates the original 2014 document and outlines the strong ongoing commitment to sustainable economic growth across the county.

Mr Long said: 'Oxfordshire is a very successful county which makes a valuable contribution to the UK economy as a whole. The development of our science and knowledge-based infrastructure is key to Oxfordshire’s future economic growth so I’m particularly pleased to see investment in this area come to fruition with the opening of the Begbroke Innovation Accelerator. Today’s launch of the refreshed Strategic Economic Plan for Oxfordshire sets out the route map for the continuing success and development of the county into the 2020s.'

Noting the facility’s regional value and influence Nicola Blackwood MP: 'I was at Begbroke to hear the Chancellor formally award the funding for the Innovation Accelerator back in 2014, and so it’s fantastic to be here now to open the hub and celebrate this major achievement which will further cement our City’s status as an innovation powerhouse. Science and enterprise is at the heart of Oxfordshire’s economy and the Innovation Accelerator means we will be even better placed to meet the needs of emerging businesses and continue to thrive.'

Story courtesy of the University of Oxford News Office

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