South Kesteven innovation centre gets go-ahead

University of Lincoln to operate new centre providing degrees, apprenticeships and short courses, alongside services to businesses, as part of bid to boost local economy

A technology and innovation centre aimed at improving local skills and nurturing start-ups is to open in Grantham, Lincolnshire, the latest initiative in South Kesteven District Council’s programme to boost the local economy.

Plans for the building got the go-ahead following a £2m grant from government’s Local Growth Deal, via the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
It is hoped that the construction of the new centre, which will open its doors in summer 2019, will achieve the council’s aim to “enhance the skills of South Kesteven’s future workforce.”

The centre, operated by the University of Lincoln, will offer degrees and degree-level apprenticeships, diplomas and short courses, as well as business-focused short courses and ‘masterclasses.’

But it will also provide services to business, such as advice for start-up companies and existing businesses and will host events, talks and desk space for businesses developing innovative ideas.

The scheme is led by InvestSK, a wholly-owned company of South Kesteven District Council, which aims to improve the local economy by supporting local business, encouraging inward investment, boosting the arts, heritage and visitor economy and regeneration projects. Its directors are council leader Councillor Matthew Lee, Councillor Kelham Cooke and council chief executive Aidan Rave.

Cabinet member for communities, health, wellbeing and skills at the council, Councillor Jacky Smith, said: “The centre will provide a place for the university, business and local people to come together, innovate and continue professional development, particularly through the opportunities that Higher Apprenticeships can bring for all to earn and learn at the same time.

“This is a major milestone towards delivering our plans to enable our businesses to develop, retain and attract talent across South Kesteven. Local companies across the area face recruitment difficulties in attracting higher level skilled staff. Having a facility like this will help to grow and attract more investment and we are keen to work with other partners to ensure our business environment remains innovative and competitive.”

Ursula Lidbetter MBE, chair of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “Responding to local employer requirements, the centre will provide a new model of university and sector collaboration, ensuring that there is a gateway to higher-level skills that cultivates a culture of enterprise and innovation.”

Sam Trendall

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