Superfast computers and robots to get slice of £67m science investment

Chancellor George Osborne announced yesterday that four business incubators in Oxford will receive £67 million between them to develop new technologies, including superfast computers and robots.

The government will provide £30 million, with the remainder coming from industry, local authorities and universities.

The funding has been provided to help small businesses within the incubators to grow and take their technology to market.

It is hoped that the funding will help Oxford to become a centre of high-tech production that will attract investment from both global and smaller companies into advanced manufacturing for jet and aerospace technology, medical research, nuclear engineering, superfast computers and robotics.

Osborne said the centres will help small science companies take their products to market, create jobs and help "secure a recovery for all".

“Oxfordshire is internationally recognised as a hub of innovation and we have to keep this up,” he added.

While visiting the Begbroke Science Park in Oxford, Osborne announced over £4 million in funding will go towards building a new “Innovation Accelerator” for small high-tech manufacturing businesses that specialise in robotics, parts for car and jet engines and superfast computers.  The project, which will be funded by government and Oxford University, will aim to support researchers by helping them to get their products ready for market.

Meanwhile, £11 million of government funding was set aside for  the “Oxford Bioescalator” in Headington, which aims to nurture small bioscience and medical companies and encourage them to share technology and expertise. The funding will be matched by private investment and the local authority.

Elsewhere, nearly £8 million, which will be matched by the private sector, will go towards the expansion of a centre for excellence in engineering technology at Culham, which develops ‘remote handling’ machinery used in the construction industry.

A further £7 million government investment will be matched by private sources for the development of high-tech science machinery at the Harwell research centre, which currently employs over 4,500 people and houses the ‘Diamond Light Source’ particle accelerator and the European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT), part of the European Space Agency.

Oxford University vice chancellor Professor Andrew Hamilton said: “Oxfordshire is already a powerhouse of innovation and wealth creation – it was recently ranked amongst the world’s top five ‘hotspots’ for innovation – and it is crucial that we build on the region’s unique strengths.

“Creating a regional environment in which entrepreneurial activity can thrive is good for Oxfordshire and good for Oxford University in its mission to continue to attract the best students and researchers from around the world.”

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