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1 December, 2016 - 13:01 By Kate Sweeney

Cutting edge innovation hothouse opens in Peterborough

Allia Future Business Centre Peterborough

Virtual reality, drones and computer control systems are among the state-of-the-art facilities now available for use by entrepreneurs, engineers and inventors at virtually no cost, through an exciting new resource that opened today at the Allia Future Business Centre in Peterborough. The Innovation Lab is one of the UK’s newest and most advanced ‘maker spaces’.

It contains cutting edge design and rapid prototyping equipment, such as Computer Aided Design software, electronics design, hi-tech making equipment, a range of 3D printers and a digital media lab. Also available are space and tools for the construction of larger projects and access to full-time technicians and business advisers.

The lab has been made possible through Allia’s Serious Impact initiative supported by European Regional Development Fund, Opportunity Peterborough and Peterborough City Council under the Peterborough DNA Future Cities programme.

Tim Jones, chief executive at Allia, said: “The Innovation Lab promises to be a remarkable resource for entrepreneurship. It will encourage and promote innovation to create the technologies that fuel tomorrow’s jobs and keep the city and region at the forefront of developments making positive impact on people and planet.

“Peterborough has a highly skilled engineering-based workforce, a commitment to using technology to improve the lives of its citizens, and an emerging entrepreneurial community.

“We felt this would be a region that would embrace the facilities that are on offer and use it as the basis to create some really innovative products and solutions.”

Dr Shailendra Vyakarnam, director of the Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship at Cranfield University added: “Traditionally, these types of facilities are located in very large cities, academic institutions or are the private inventing spaces for large corporates and can be expensive to access by people in the early-stages of their entrepreneurial journey.

“In addition to being very low cost to access, what makes this truly unique is that it goes beyond simply providing space and equipment; this innovation lab provides the technical expertise and the business mentoring essential to help turn ideas into sustainable ventures.”

The launch of the lab was celebrated at an event attended by the former CEO of the employment charity, Tomorrow’s People, Baroness Steadman Scott; the Rosetta mission’s space scientist Monica Grady; Cambridge tech entrepreneur, Chris Curry – co-founder of Acorn Computers; and Caroline Burstall, chair of the Peterborough Women’s Development Network and product manager at Caterpillar Perkins.

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