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16 February, 2006 - 08:04 By Staff Reporter

Engineering hothouse launchpad

The new £4 million Hethel Engineering Centre (HEC) has opened its doors for business on schedule, on land adjacent to the headquarters of Group Lotus.The new £4 million Hethel Engineering Centre (HEC) has opened its doors for business on schedule, on land adjacent to the headquarters of Group Lotus.

The Hethel Engineering Centre will provide a range of facilities to start-up and established engineering and manufacturing companies across the region.

These include rental units, a training centre, business advice sources and leading-edge engineering facilities.

A number of new tenants are soon to be unveiled for the business incubation space at the facility, which includes office suites and workshop incubator units for start up and high performance engineering and manufacturing businesses.

Conferencing facilities include an ICT suite and 40 seat conference space with breakout rooms through to broadband-enabled ‘hotdesking suites’ for hire by the day.

A comprehensive training programme is also available. HEC is working with partners such as Cranfield University, Cambridge Institute of Manufacturing and the Smallpiece Foundation among others to ensure it brings up to the minute courses to Norfolk businesses.

A range of courses is already available covering all aspects of running and growing a successful high performance engineering or manufacturing companies in the current global marketplace.

Partners providing backing for the Centre for Engineering Excellence are Group Lotus, Norfolk County Council, Shaping the Future, East of England Development Agency, Business Link for Norfolk, South Norfolk Council, the Learning and Skills Council.

Start-up and recently established business across the region can win a year's free accommodation in an office suite or workshop at the centre plus free access to a range of specialist advice – worth up to £50,000 – by entering a 'Launchpad' competition.

Entry details for Launch-pad are available from the Hethel Engineering Centre website at

Bill Williams, the centre’s chief executive, said: "This is a really exciting initiative – a shot in the arm for engineers, innovators and entrepreneurs in Norfolk."

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