Big help for small businesses

March 17, 2000

South-eastern electronics and engineering companies now have access to industrial research and development facilities thanks to a new centre at Sussex University.

The Pounds 4 million South East Advanced Technology Hub (Seath) will enable smaller businesses to try different techniques and to create and test prototype products without having to invest in expensive new equipment. "The vision is to provide world-class advanced engineering and knowledge-based technology to businesses in the region," said Chris Chatwin, Seath research director.

The Seath site includes high-quality clean rooms, opto-electronics laboratories and an IT suite. Desk space and telephones are available for people wishing to set up spin-off companies from technologies developed at Seath, and there is access to scientific equipment in other parts of the university as well, Professor Chatwin said.

The idea came from the Alliance of West Sussex Electronics Manufacturers and the Electronics Action Group, which represent local companies. Sussex Enterprise, a business membership organisation incorporating the local training and enterprise council, Business Link and the chamber of commerce, produced a business plan and helped negotiate with the university.

"Postgraduates get experience of working with real companies, so when they leave they have contacts in industry, and understand working to deadlines and budgets," said Andy Carr, Seath project manager at Sussex Enterprise.

Details: www.sussex.ac.uk

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