Park gets go-ahead

June 6, 1997

A TEN-YEAR-OLD scheme to build Britain's biggest science park on the outskirts of Bristol has finally been given the go-ahead by planners.

Bristol University, Bath University and the University of the West of England are poised to move researchers and support staff onto the 130-hectare Emersons Green site northeast of Bristol and south of the M4, as soon as building of the park is complete.

South Gloucestershire Council has approved plans for the park, after years of planning inquiries. Small-scale local protests over proposals to extend the Bristol ring-road which would provide access to the site are now the only obstacle in the way of the scheme.

Landowners will cover the cost of building an academic innovation centre and science park, which would have manufacturing facilities on site, as a condition of planning permission. The universities, working through a Science Research Foundation set up by Bristol and Bath and involving academics from UWE, would provide the expertise and academic staff.

Don Carleton, SRF secretary and chief executive officer and information officer at Bristol University, predicted the park would eventually create up to 10,000 jobs, many at academic level.

"The SRF welcomes ideas and suggestions from university-based research groups. The guiding principle is 'additionality'. This means that the SRF will undertake activities which the universities for whatever reason cannot or will not undertake. As a commercial company, it sometimes has access to sources of funding which would not be available to an academic institution," he said.

The SRF has already set up an advanced computation operating division, the Partnership in Advanced Computing Technologies (PACT). It currently holds European contracts worth about Pounds 4 million, and has recently signed a five-year agreement with the Franco-Italian semiconductor manufacturer SGS Thomson Microelectronics.

John Steeds, SRF chairman and a physics professor at Bristol University, said the science park development should give the region and its universities a new edge in attracting top international corporations, in the same way that Microsoft was attracted to Cambridge by its science park facilities.

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