University innovation at the heart of the solent’s recovery from the covid-19 pandemic

With a focus on innovation, digital inclusion and pioneering approaches to decarbonisation, the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has unveiled an updated Economic Recovery Plan to lead the Solent’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Immediate initiatives to support the Solent’s economic recovery from the pandemic are outlined in the Solent LEP’s for the year ahead. The Delivery Plan sets out seven priority areas and details the programmes that will support them. 

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These include pioneering approaches to climate change adaptation and decarbonisation by investing in the Industrial Engagement Hub at the University’s Centre for Enzyme Innovation (CEI) and supporting the recovery of the Solent’s visitor, creative and cultural economy through continued investment into the University’s Centre for Creative and Immersive eXtended Reality (CCIXR).

At the CEI, we’re proud to be part of the expanding work in developing innovative solutions across the Solent region. The technology we are developing offers a potential solution to recycle plastic waste, which is also low energy and low greenhouse-gas emitting. Rory Miles, Innovation Fellow for the Centre.

The Solent LEP was allocated £15.9m from the Government’s Getting Building Fund (GBF) for investment in local infrastructure projects to stimulate jobs and support economic recovery across the country. The LEP invested up to £1m into the Industrial Engagement Hub of the CEI with its construction and opening by March 2022, which will accelerate the commercial exploitation of bio-recycling technologies for the breakdown of plastics. The Centre aims to create five new jobs over 10 years.

Rory Miles, Innovation Fellow for the Centre, said: “At the CEI, we’re proud to be part of the expanding work in developing innovative solutions across the Solent region. The technology we are developing offers a potential solution to recycle plastic waste, which is also low energy and low greenhouse-gas emitting. Following our launch, it became apparent that the CEI needed the facilities and equipment to trial and scale this bio-recycling technology to the requirements of industry partners. This investment will enable us to support businesses to ‘build back better’ through collaborative projects on the recycling and up-cycling of waste materials and the downstream adoption of this clean growth technology.” 

In June 2020, the Solent LEP announced £3.6m of funding towards the CCIXR, the UK’s first fully integrated facility to support innovation in the creative and digital technologies of virtual, augmented and extended realities. Continued investment will lead to opportunities for 500 new learners, 800 business engagements, 130 Research and Development bids and over 100 knowledge exchange outputs to be delivered over the next 10 years. CCIXR enables us to support businesses from a wide range of sectors by providing access to world-class facilities and expertise. The innovation and application of XR technology will also stimulate growth and productivity across the region and beyond. Pippa Bostock, Business Director for the CCIXR.

Brian Johnson, Chair of the Solent LEP said: “The past year has been incredibly tough for businesses everywhere, and as we begin to see signs of recovery, our team is focusing on helping the local economy to stabilise and move forward. With a track record of innovation, and as the home to world-class research assets, the Solent region is ideally placed to capture new opportunities. This will not only accelerate the pace of economic recovery but also lead to improvements in productivity in the long term. 

“Our Economic Recovery Plan details how we will work with partners, Government and our business community to ensure the Solent not only remains very much open for business, but also makes the most of its critical role in strengthening the UK’s trading relationship with the world.”

Source: University of Portsmouth

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