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20 February, 2015 - 12:38 By Tony Quested

PM pledges investment billions and 250,000 jobs for region

PM David Cameron with Indro Mukerjee of FlexEnable

UK Prime Minister David Cameron unveiled a blueprint for growth that could see 250,000 jobs created in the East of England by 2020, underpinned by billions of pounds of investment, as he visited Cambridge technology hubs and the rapidly expanding Port of Felixstowe.

He launched a new £15 million technology centre at Cambridge Science Park, purred over FlexEnable (formerly Plastic Logic) technology targeting multi-billion dollar markets – and really pushed the boat out by revealing his masterplan for East of England growth as he announced a £200m new development at Felixstowe docks.

Cameron said the economic growth plan aims to create 250,000 new jobs by 2020 and will take forward £4.2 billion of investment into transport infrastructure alone along that roadmap.

The Prime Minister lauded the expertise of Cambridge and UK scientists and underlined their importance to both the economy and humanity as he announced that the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills was partnering Trinity College to build a new technology centre on the Science Park.

A spokesperson for Bidwells, which markets the Science Park for Trinity, said the estimated development costs of the technology centre “would be circa £15m.”

The facility will be named the Sir John Bradfield Centre, in honour of the eponymous mastermind of the Science Park who was senior bursar at Trinity and largely instrumental in its creation. 

The tech centre will be built on the 1.25 acre site of Building 184 providing  36,000 sq ft over three floors. Two-thirds of the building will be innovation and lab space. 

Around 6,000 sq ft will provide space for a café, retail unit, conference and meeting rooms and communal networking area. The residual space will be made available to more established tenants at commercial rates.

Sir Gregory Winter, Master of Trinity College said: “We hope to promote a culture in which we not only help to develop technologies and companies but also the entrepreneurs who will build the industries of the future.” 

PM David Cameron with Sir Greg Winter
Prime Minister David Cameron with Sir Gregory Winter

While at the Science Park, the Prime Minister learned to ‘bend it like Beckham’ as he visited FlexEnable – formerly Plastic Logic – whose products based on flexible organic electronics technology “can bend round corners,” according to chairman Indro Mukerjee.

The PM toured the company’s engineering centre and flexible rapid prototyping line in Cambridge and was shown a number of recent technology breakthroughs. They included the first flexible and all-plastic IPS liquid crystal displays (LCDs) made in partnership with Merck (the global leader in LCD materials); the world’s first all-plastic flexible OLED display made in partnership with Novaled (Samsung); the world’s first plastic image sensor developed with ISORG; as well as the world’s first industrially proven flexible electronics process to reach commercial scale for flexible displays and sensors.

Indro Mukerjee said: “The team is extremely pleased that the Prime Minister chose to visit FlexEnable and to see our technology for himself. I am delighted by this recognition of FlexEnable’s truly flexible electronics and our work to actively develop a supply chain capable of delivering this to global markets.”

PM David Cameron is shown FlexEnable technology by Indro Mukerjee
Prime Minister David Cameron shown Flexenable technology by chairman Indro Mukerjee

The Port of Felixstowe, which continues to grow like Topsy, was a suitable launchpad for the Government’s over-arching plan for growth in the region, the PM said.

He saw the ultra-large container ship, CSCL Saturn, being worked at the port's Berths 8&9. He also viewed the extension being built to these berths which will allow the UK's largest container port to handle even more of the latest mega-ships operating on the world’s major trade routes.

The Prime Minister welcomed the Port of Felixstowe’s significant investment in what he called world-class facilities, including future plans for a new £200m Berth (Berth 10), and the high numbers of additional jobs that will be created. He said: “The extraordinary scale of the trade you are pioneering is not just fundamental to success in this region – it’s fundamental to the success of the whole country. 

“And with your exports to the fast-growing Asian markets up by two-fifths in the last five years alone that is exactly what you are helping to do. Put simply, you are increasing Britain’s footprint in the world. Your success is one part of an exciting story of economic recovery that is beginning to take place right across the East of England.”

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