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College bid boost for youth and business

PUBLISHED: 12:16 23 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:43 03 March 2010

A NEW technology institute could be up and running on the Waterfront in Ipswich as soon as next summer if a joint bid by Suffolk College and IP-City for Government funding gets the green light.

A NEW technology institute could be up and running on the Waterfront in Ipswich as soon as next summer if a joint bid by Suffolk College and IP-City for Government funding gets the green light.

A new technology institute in Ipswich would help ease the shortage of ICT and telecoms skills currently experienced by the local technology businesses.

It could also pave the way for a much-needed undergraduate university in Suffolk – fulfilling aspirations that were high on the agenda when Suffolk College (then Civic College) first opened its doors 40 years ago.

The consortium has submitted a bid under a Government scheme that aims to create two technology institutes for each economic region in the UK. It is believed three other bids have been put forward in the East of England, including a proposal from Essex University.

Suffolk College owns the site next to the Bellway Homes apartments development on the Waterfront. It has teamed up with IP-City representatives – including Agilent, BTexact, and the Suffolk Learning and Skills Council - on proposals that will match Government funding with private investment and link the technology institute to residential and commercial projects anticipated for the old docks regeneration area.

"This is exactly what Ipswich needs," said James Hehir, Ipswich Borough Council chief executive and chair of the IP-City Steering Group.

"It brings together higher education, regeneration, the Waterfront development and is fully supported by IP-City. A new technology institute would provide opportunities for all our young people and would be a catalyst for growth and vitality in the town."

The Waterfront location should help to strengthen the bid by tying it in with the "wet dock" economic regeneration project already supported by the East of England Development Agency.

A recent report by the EEDA also highlighted the need for greater investment in higher education in Ipswich, especially in ICT skills to support the significant ICT/telecoms cluster in the area. Under the initial proposals submitted last Friday, the new technology institute could cater for 200 full- and part-time students for the 2002/3 academic year, increasing to 550 over the following two years.

"Given the college's geographical proximity to the Waterfront site, and our involvement with IP-City and the Cambridge-Ipswich Hi-Tech Corridor, we believe we have a strong case," said Professor Dave Muller, principal at Suffolk College.

A decision on the initial bid is expected next month. If successful, the consortium will submit a detailed business plan for the proposed institute with a final decision anticipated early next year.

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