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6 February, 2006 - 18:14 By Staff Reporter

New funding set to create over 400 jobs

It is hoped that a new fund will drive the creation of hundreds of new companies and attract multi-millions in fresh investment

A contract worth over a million pounds to create hundreds of jobs by funding hi-tech companies to start, grow and thrive across the region has been awarded by the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) to St John’s Innovation Centre, based in Cambridge.

The new programme will have three strands designed to help create over 400 jobs, 200 new companies and encourage millions of pounds of investment into the region’s start up companies in the next three years.

The programme involves:-

• Developing specialist support for the region making sure start ups are ‘investor ready’ and capable of succeeding thanks to bespoke advice and specialists being parachuted in to help businesses

• Further developing the East of England Innovation Relay Centre – recently voted best in Europe – to provide a partner service for businesses in the region to develop R&D, innovation, and technology opportunities with firms in the European Union

• The appointment of an international relations officer who will be responsible for finding international partners for innovative companies across the region

David Marlow, chief executive of EEDA, said: “This contract is an excellent example of how public sector funding and private sector know how can come together for the benefit of entrepreneurs in our region.

“At the East of England Development Agency we are acutely aware of our responsibility to help new start ups develop into successful and thriving businesses, this is why we are working with St John’s Innovation Centre and Walter Herriot to bring their specialist knowledge to the benefit of the whole region.

“The three strands of this initiative are designed to give our entrepreneurs the chance to compete effectively not only in the UK but in Europe and across the world.

“By creating strong networks and clusters we are ensuring opportunities are opening up to all those who have products and services which have the potential to have a significant impact on the economy.”

EEDA’s Enterprise Hub programme, aiming to maximise commercial exploitation of the East of England’s world-class knowledge base, is one of the EEDA’s four key products.

As a result of this funding, St John’s Innovation Centre, the original inspiration for the Hub programme, is now itself classed as an EEDA Enterprise Hub for the first time.

Walter Herriot, managing director of St John’s Innovation Centre Ltd, said: “This money and the services it will fund will have a real impact on the future of the whole region.

“We are developing enterprise hubs where companies can get the assistance they need to make their businesses succeed – accessing knowledge and networks which will improve their development.

“We have been set a tremendous challenge to spread the benefits of enterprise hubs beyond the walls of successful innovation centres and help businesses to realise the value they can have on their work.”

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