Stoke Staffs LEP
University Enterprise Zone adds ‘Collaboratory’ to its Connected facilities
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University Enterprise Zone adds ‘Collaboratory’ to its Connected facilities

Creative workspace designed to stimulate collaboration and spark new ideas for products and start-up businesses is to be developed at Staffordshire University.

The new £720,000 Collaboratory is the latest addition to the Innovation Enterprise Zone (IEZ) which celebrated its virtual launch at the University’s Stoke-on-Trent campus last month.

The project, which is due to take shape over the next six months, has been boosted by a £500,000 grant from the government’s Getting Building Fund which is supported through the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

Situated on the Stoke-on-Trent campus alongside business start-up facilities and specialist labs to boost innovation in digital, creative, advanced manufacturing and advanced materials, the Collaboratory will connect students and graduates with academics, entrepreneurs and businesses.

Executive Dean of the Faculty of Digital, Technologies and Arts, Professor David Hawkins, said:

This will enable engineers, technologists and creatives to come together to exchange ideas, discuss solutions and explore options and opportunities. It’s essentially about connecting people and will be an exciting space for open innovation challenges.

It builds on the University’s existing strengths in product design, robotics, materials and digital where we’ve invested significantly in our facilities and where we are actively looking to grow research and knowledge exchange.”

The Collaboratory will comprise creative workspace features where new ideas can be worked into designs and then materialised through the Innovation Enterprise Zone facilities. This will be equipped with interactive screens to enable high-resolution visualisation of products, designs and collaborative team working.

Head of Employer Partnerships and Enterprise, Marek Hornak, added:

The Mellor building is the centre for our Innovation Enterprise Zone where the hatchery, incubator units, specialist labs and equipment are co-located with students, researchers, academics and business support programmes.

Locating the Collaboratory’ in this building will reap benefits from being part of our evolving enterprise and innovation ecosystem.”

The Collaboratory aims to assist in the creation of 44 new jobs, 22 start-up business and 10 new products by 2025.

Professor Martin Jones, Deputy Vice-Chancellor added:

The Collaboratory will promote early-stage enterprise and product design – effectively bringing ideas to life. Coupled with our business support offer and access to specialist expertise and technologies, we believe that the addition of the Collaboratory to our innovation ecosystem will make a tangible difference in these challenging times.”

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP chairman Alun Rogers said:

Connecting the talents and energy of students and graduates from Staffordshire University with experienced businesses in our key sectors demonstrates why the Collaboratory is such a stand-out project.

The university provides an invaluable stimulus to our economy, our communities and to skilled job creation. The launch of the Collaboratory is fantastic news – building on the university’s expertise and innovation. As a LEP it is our role to support such projects which can get off the ground as soon as possible and make a difference. We look forward to the creation of businesses, jobs and innovative products in our area.”