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First look inside brand new £8m science centre

PUBLISHED: 20:33 06 December 2019 | UPDATED: 20:33 06 December 2019

Rob Jones showcasing a research and development machine tending cell  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Rob Jones showcasing a research and development machine tending cell Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

A new state of the art science, technology, engineering and maths centre in Bury St Edmunds which is hoped to create the UK's own Silicon Valley has been officially opened.

Students with a vehicle that was made at the college  L-R Luke Alexander, Callum Hammond, Alexandre Lopes Maru, David Ackroyd, George Berry,Jack Cox  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNStudents with a vehicle that was made at the college L-R Luke Alexander, Callum Hammond, Alexandre Lopes Maru, David Ackroyd, George Berry,Jack Cox Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The new STEM campus is part of West Suffolk College and was developed to train the creators, programmers and innovators of tomorrow from GCSE level through to degrees.

The new £8m project houses 4,300 sqm new teaching facility comprising of two seminar rooms, 10 classrooms, six laboratories, learning hubs, social spaces and a business centre.

The new college campus, its third in total, is based at the former Vitec site on Western Way and opened to students in September.

The project is at the heart of the college's plans to create an "education triangle" - which also includes construction of the Abbeygate Sixth Form in the grounds of King Edward VI School opposite.

Matthew Wallwork with a robot dog  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNMatthew Wallwork with a robot dog Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

West Suffolk College principal, Dr Nikos Savvas said that he hoped that the centre would bring the best technology minds to the East.

"We want to create the Silicon Valley of the UK here," he said.

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"We are working with anyone who is anyone in the technology industry to make this a centre of excellence.

Niko Savvas, Chief Executive of West Suffolk College  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNNiko Savvas, Chief Executive of West Suffolk College Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

"The area from Oxford to Norwich and down to London is the same size as Silicon Valley and we hope to have the same productivity from this area as in the US.

"It's not just Suffolk. We want to expand to Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. We want to bring the best start-ups in the Eastern regions here. Who knows we may have the next big tech company starting in Suffolk.

"This is the first year here and we have 829 engineering and digital students at the site."

The 5.5-acre site redevelopment has been made possible through investment from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), who has invested £7m through the Growth Deal Programme.

James Batchelor  demonstrating a virtual welder  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNJames Batchelor demonstrating a virtual welder Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The newly-formed West Suffolk Council has also been involved in driving the development forward.

Dr Savvas added: "We want to train the industry leader today and also industry leaders for the future.

"This is one of the most talented areas of the UK and we want to show that.

"I would like to thank all of our partners for their support."

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