State-of-the-art Innovation Lab opens in Peterborough
Outstanding design, prototyping and testing facilities now available for use by the region's entrepreneurs, engineers and inventors
Virtual reality, drones and computer control systems are among the state-of-the-art facilities now available for use by entrepreneurs, engineers and inventors at virtually no cost, thanks to an exciting new resource that opens today at the Allia Future Business Centre in Peterborough.
The Innovation Lab is one of the UK's newest and most advanced "maker spaces". It contains state-of-the-art design and rapid prototyping equipment, such as Computer Aided Design software, electronics design, hi-tech making equipment, a range of 3D printers and a digital media lab. Also available is space and tools for the construction of larger projects and access to full-time technicians and business advisers.
Dr Shailendra Vyakarnam, Director of the Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship at Cranfield, said
"Traditionally, these types of facilities are located in very large cities, academic institutions or are the private inventing spaces for large corporates, and can be expensive to access by people in the early-stages of their entrepreneurial journey. In addition to being very low cost to access, what makes this truly unique is that it goes beyond simply providing space and equipment, this innovation lab provides the technical expertise and the business mentoring essential to help turn ideas into sustainable ventures."
The Innovation Lab is aimed explicitly at entrepreneurs, engineers and inventors who want to make a positive impact on people, planet and place. It has been made possible through Allia's Serious Impact initiative supported by European Regional Development Fund, Opportunity Peterborough and Peterborough City Council under the Peterborough DNA future cities programme.
Tim Jones, Chief Executive at Allia, says: "The Innovation Lab promises to be a remarkable resource for entrepreneurship. It will encourage and promote innovation to create the technologies that fuel tomorrow's jobs and keep the city and region at the forefront of developments making positive impact on people and planet."
He added: "Peterborough has a highly skilled engineering-based workforce, a commitment to using technology to improve the lives of its citizens, and an emerging entrepreneurial community. We felt this would be a region that would embrace the facilities that are on offer and use it as the basis to create some really innovative products and solutions."
Steve Bowyer, chief executive of economic development company Opportunity Peterborough, says: "Peterborough has an enviable track record for new business start-ups, and the city performs well in national leagues tables for patent registration too.
"All too often business ideas and new start-ups can be stifled by lack of support or poor testing facilities, but here in Peterborough we offer our entrepreneurs an invaluable network of expertise to help get their ideas off the ground and into markets. The range of equipment on offer in the new Innovation Lab is excellent and will only serve to support and inspire city entrepreneurs to innovate further.
"The Allia Future Business Centre is Peterborough's smart city hub, so it's the perfect place for the Lab to be based. Opportunity Peterborough was delighted to support the Innovation Lab through our Future Cities work which has helped many local SMEs develop new products; this firmly makes the Centre a hub for the smart city work for which Peterborough is world-renowned."
The launch of the Innovation Lab was celebrated at a special event attended by the former ceo of the employment charity, Tomorrow's People, Baroness Steadman Scott; the Rosetta mission's space scientist Monica Grady CBE; and Cambridge tech entrepreneur, Chris Curry of Acorn Computers;
* Allia creates social impact through enterprise. It does this by providing access to finance, workspace and practical support to social and environmental businesses and charities, and by stimulating new ideas and collaborations among organisations that aim to address social challenges. www.allia.org.uk
* The Innovation Labis a unique, new, high spec Innovation Lab in the Allia Future Business Centre in Peterborough offering rapid prototyping, creation and testing facilities. There is a small fee to use the Innovation Lab of £30 per month. For more information or to find out how to access visit www.seriousimpact.co.uk/innovationlab
* Serious Impact is a £1.7m five-channel free-to-access programme of training and support aimed specifically at impact entrepreneurs and ventures within the Greater Cambridgeshire and Greater Peterborough LEP area. Serious Impact aims to grow the number of impact entrepreneurs and ventures across the region; reduce the failure rate of those that are launched; help create sustainable employment and support underrepresented groups. www.seriousimpact.co.uk
Future Cities Demonstrator: In 2012, Peterborough came second in a competition run by the Technology Strategy Board, (now Innovate UK). As a result we were awarded £3million to test, develop and implement new concepts and ideas connecting people, places, spaces and services in smarter ways, creating a more sustainable city to live and work in.
The Peterborough DNA programme provided a foundation to deliver smart projects across the city through strong leadership and support to deliver innovative solutions to city challenges.
Our citizen centred approach resulted in world recognition, with Peterborough being named World Smart City 2015. We are now taking those ideas and scaling them up across our city through the Future Peterborough programme.
Future Peterborough is being delivered by Opportunity Peterborough and Peterborough City Council.
* A "makerspace"is a creative, DIY space where people can gather to create, invent, and learn. They often have 3D printers, software, electronics, craft and hardware supplies and tools, and more. They are sometimes also referred to as hackerspaces, hackspaces, and fablabs.
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