THE second Beacon Town conference next month is to be the springboard of an attempt to get millions of pounds to transform the local economy.

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THE government’s Technology Strategy Board is to award £24million to a town or city in Britain.

Ipswich is one of 30 that have been shortlisted to bid for the cash which will be given to the community that can demonstrate how technology can transform its life.

It is a winner-takes-all competition – one community will get the entire £24m and become Britain’s “Future City.” Grants of £50,000 each have been made to the shortlisted towns and cities, including Ipswich.

The bid has to be submitted to the government by November, and a decision will be made early next year.

The second Beacon Conference, on September 14, will give participants the chance to say what should be included in the bid – which is likely to be linked the UCS and BT, which has its major presence at Martlesham Heath.

The conference is being sponsored by The Ipswich Star, the borough council and MP Ben Gummer.

Borough leader David Ellesmere said: “There are 30 places on the shortlist so if we are to have a chance we need to work on this – but we do have an advantage because while £23m might be swallowed up quite easily by some of the cities on the list for a town like Ipswich it would be transformative.”

The conference will also feature a presentation by former Marks and Spencer boss Sir Stuart Rose who has a home in Suffolk and knows Ipswich well.

It will be held in the heart of the town, at the Corn Exchange, and will bring together business leaders, politicians, and community figures to try to boost Ipswich’s profile.

Since February’s initial conference there have been significant boosts with work restarting on some of the Waterfront developments, new hotels rapidly taking shape, and work getting on well at Futura Park – where the new John Lewis At Home and Waitrose is being built.

How should the borough bid for the £23m? E-mail starletters@archant.co.uk

The Ipswich Star is spreading the I Love Ipswich campaign across the town and beyond. We want everyone to know what a great place Ipswich is and why it’s perfect for schemes such as this.

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