Multi-million pound Intelligent Energy System Demonstrator project underway at University of Chester’s Thornton Science Park.

  • Willmott Dixon appointed to refurbish building set to house Energy Demonstrator
  • Demonstrator will support and enable energy research, innovation and technology development
  • Project funded by the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership ‘Local Growth Fund’
  • Local companies in the energy sector are being invited to engage with the project.

The University of Chester has appointed construction and regeneration specialists Willmott Dixon to refurbish and develop a large building which will house an Intelligent Energy System Demonstrator (IESD). The building sits on the University of Chester’s Thornton Science Park and the Demonstrator will be a flagship innovation project of the Cheshire Science Corridor – the new Enterprise Zone announced by the Government last autumn and developed by Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership. The project is due to be completed in spring 2017.

Willmott Dixon Managing Director Anthony Dillon said: “We are delighted to be working with the University of Chester to deliver the Intelligent Energy Systems Demonstrator project, a fantastic facility which will be central to growth of the energy research sector within Cheshire. Our focus on employing local companies will provide a great opportunity for local people to be involved with this innovative project.”

Engaging with the energy industry

Companies with an involvement in the energy sector are being invited to be part of the multi-million pound project which will, ultimately, shape the sector’s future.

The team behind the Intelligent Energy System Demonstrator (IESD) project at Thornton Science Park is keen to hear from energy-related businesses who would be interested in being part of the facility, which will be aiming to aid the development of cost effective and environmentally responsible sources of energy.

Drawing on the wealth of technical expertise, facilities and supporting infrastructures that are available on site, the IESD will be a space where industry can work alongside the University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering (as is happening already throughout Thornton Science Park). The Demonstrator will become a nationally significant facility, primarily aimed at supporting and enabling energy research, innovation and technology development, to meet the growth needs of the sector. Energy companies will be able to test at scale new power saving and distribution technologies, aiding the development of low cost, environmentally responsible sources of energy.

The proposed development is being funded from the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), who will be contributing up to £6.8m from the Local Growth Fund awarded as part of the LEP’s Growth Deal

Philip Cox, Chief Executive of Cheshire and Warrington LEP, said: “Science is one of Cheshire and Warrington’s key strengths and its growth will play a key role in our ambitions to deliver a £50bn economy for the area by 2040. The Energy Demonstrator is a significant development for the sector and for Thornton Science Park, one of the key sites within the Cheshire Science Corridor which recently launched as an Enterprise Zone. This nationally significant project will be a flagship for the site.”

Enabling productivity and growth

The shared facility will provide a flexible place (including office and laboratory space) for research, innovation and development. It will house various equipment for industry and academics, providing the capability for researchers to ‘plug and play’ with a number of facilities, across all aspects of energy systems (conventional and unconventional) and smart grids. All manner of energy sources are expected to be available for testing including the electrical grid, gas, solar voltaic and steam networks.

It will specifically focus on the following areas of the industry:

• Computational modelling

• Materials identification and analysis

• Engineering and mechanical design

• Environmental modelling and testing

• Onshore Gas and Oil

• Smart grids and cities (including the Internet of Things.)

Professor Joseph Howe, Executive Director of the Thornton Energy Research Institute at the University of Chester, said: “The Energy Demonstrator is a vital initiative for the energy sector and its future security and sustainability and the University is thrilled to be hosting this project. This facility will become the showcase for new and innovative energy technologies, supporting their commercialisation and providing models for the generation, supply and management of energy too.

“There is also a great knock-on potential for our students, not only with industrial work-placement opportunities, but we anticipate that the science generated within the Demonstrator will be used by University staff to inform the science and engineering curricula at Thornton, to create, develop and maintain a highly trained workforce in the sector.”

Project delivery

Refurbishment and construction of the facility is being project managed by AECOM and includes delivery from Ryder architects, Arup design and WYG quantity surveyors. The project is expected to be completed by March 2017, allowing tenants to take occupancy in June 2017.

Companies wishing to find out more can contact:


Tel: 01244 567 500

Commercial Operations

University of Chester

Thornton Science Park, Pool Lane, Ince, Cheshire, CH2 4NU

The Cheshire & Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Deal of £142.7 million to be invested in Cheshire & Warrington will help to create up to 9,000 jobs, allow up to 400 homes to be built, and generate up to £50m in public and private investment. The Cheshire & Warrington Growth Deal is part of a £12 billion long-term programme to revitalise local economies

Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone showcased at International Festival for Business

Partners in the Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone (EZ) joined together to promote the benefits of investing in the EZ at the International Festival for Business last month, which took place at Liverpool’s Arena and Convention Centre.

As the world’s top business event, IFB offered a great oppportunity to showcase Cheshire’s science assets, along with the opportunities offered by the EZ, to the 30,000 delegates that attended the Festival this year over the three week period.

Representatives from EZ partners, including Cheshire West and Chester Council, Cheshire East Council and Warrington Borough Council, along with sites within the Enterprise Zone including Birchwood Park, Thornton Science Park and Alderley Park, were on hand to talk delegates through the opportunties offered by the EZ and the incentives available to businesses.

Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone launches with the potential to lever £100m investment

Cheshire and Warrington’s Enterprise Zone, the Cheshire Science Corridor, officially launched today (24th May 2016) at Warrington’s Birchwood Science Park, one of a number of science rich sites across Cheshire that forms the Science Corridor.

The award of Enterprise Zone status by Government in October 2015 offers the potential for the Cheshire Science Corridor, which covers over 100 hectares in total, to attract up to 20,000 jobs and 500 businesses to Cheshire and Warrington through business incentives and the ability to retain and reinvest new business rate revenue. The Enterprise Zone is expected to lever in approximately £100m additional investment which will be reinvested in essential infrastructure to support business growth.

The Cheshire Science Corridor stretches from Urenco at Capenhurst in the West, through to AstraZeneca at Hurdsfield in the East and South down to Jodrell Bank.

Led by Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), in partnership with the three local authorities of Cheshire West and Chester Council, Cheshire East Council and Warrington Borough Council, the Enterprise Zone will enable the LEP to deliver a range of incentives for businesses. This includes providing significant help with business rates for high growth companies in the life sciences sector at Alderley Park, the leading life science facility in the North of England and the largest R&D facility of its kind in the UK. With over £550m invested by AstraZeneca in world-class facilities over the past decade, Alderley Park is one of the best-invested bioscience R&D sites in Europe.

It will also promote the development of the nuclear cluster at Birchwood through infrastructure and other improvements, and will allow new investors to benefit from enhanced capital allowances in Ellesmere Port and at Thornton Science Park.

Robert Mee, Chair of the Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone, said: “The Cheshire and Warrington LEP believe the Science and Energy sectors are hugely important in our sub-region. We identified a number of sites with high growth potential and a skilled workforce and it is these sites that make up the Enterprise Zone and will offer significant incentives to attract more science based businesses to help grow these key sectors”.

Since the Enterprise Zone was established on 1st April, there have already been a number of applications across the Enterprise Zone, including its first tenant, global medical diagnostics company, Werfen Ltd, the UK affiliate of Werfen Group which manufactures diagnostic instruments for the health sector. Werfen UK has been based in the Birchwood area for over 35 years and is directly involved in the science based industrial supply chain. The UK operation is focussed on education, training and research and development facilities to support learning, innovation and knowledge transfer in the science sector.

Xavier Soler, Werfen’s Financial Controller, said: “Werfen wanted to locate to a place where we can retain and recruit the best staff, and one that is well connected for our sales team, and Birchwood Park within the new Enterprise Zone was ideal for its range of tenants, facilities and build we could convert, as well as the added incentives offered through the EZ.

Martin O’Rourke, commercial director at Birchwood Park, commented:

“Warrington and Birchwood’s businesses and local authorities have helped attract global companies such as National Nuclear Laboratories and AMEC Foster Wheeler, growing respected nuclear clusters as a result. The formation of the new Enterprise Zone can be expected to build the area’s international profile in much the same way, further bringing opportunities to benefit local development and the wider community.

“We are already receiving enquiries as a result of the EZ announcement, and with businesses such as Werfen basing their staff at Birchwood Park, we will continue to adapt to correspond with their needs. The completion of the recent road works as part of the Birchwood Pinch Point has been one improvement, and we will continue to work with WBC in furthering the success of the Cheshire Science Corridor.”

Protos at the heart of new Enterprise Zone for Cheshire

Protos will play a key role in accelerating growth and innovation as part of a new Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone (EZ). The new EZ – confirmed by the Chancellor in the Autumn Statement – will link together the area’s best commercial developments and internationally significant research facilities.

Over 20 hectares of development land at Protos forms part of the new EZ, with the bid submitted by the Cheshire West and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in September 2015. In total, the EZ will seek to stimulate significant investment across 133 hectares of development land in Cheshire and Warrington.

Jane Gaston, Protos Development Director, said:

“The creation of this Enterprise Zone is a vote of confidence in Cheshire’s ability to deliver world-class development centred on science. We are proud that Protos will be a key driver for growth in this sector and will form part of the vision to create an internationally-recognised hub for skills and innovative industries.

“Construction is already underway at Protos to deliver key site infrastructure and a biomass facility at one of the first plots. We are now looking forward to working with the LEP to capitalise on Enterprise Zone status to fast-track investment into Cheshire.”

Securing EZ status will provide significant support with business rates; simplify the planning process at development sites; support the roll-out of super-fast broadband; and provide incentives for businesses investing in plant and machinery.

The project is central part of the LEP’s plans to deliver a £50 billion economic boost into the area over the next 25 years. Stimulating such investment could underpin the Government’s Northern Powerhouse vision and see growth in key target sectors.

Sites included in the Cheshire Science Corridor EZ include Alderley Park, Birchwood in Warrington and a collection of sites across Ellesmere Port, including Hooton Park and the University of Chester’s Thornton Science Park.

Jane Gaston added:

“Delivering forward-thinking development will take collaboration and we are already working with Thornton Science Park and a range of investment partners to create an energy and skills hub for the Northern Powerhouse. Creation of the Enterprise Zone will underpin the hard work that has gone into transforming this area into an energetic business corridor and we are excited to offer the benefits to ambitious occupiers and businesses looking to invest in Cheshire.”

Science Parks Development Update

Join Kier Group and Place North West to hear about the latest in science parks development at this half-day briefing event next month.

Speakers confirmed to date include:

Colin Sinclair, director of workspace development at Bruntwood, due to take up a new post as chief executive of Liverpool Knowledge Quarter in May

Alex Solk, partner at Sheppard Robson, science sector lead for the North, from design of laboratory research and teaching facilities within universities to new developments including Citylabs at Manchester Science Partnerships and Tech Space at Sci-Tech Daresbury

Dr Mark Bacon, director of engagement and partnerships at Keele University, a former research scientist and responsible for Keele University Science & Innovation Park

Dr Matilda Bingham, executive director and head of medicinal chemistry at Redx Oncology, part of pharmaceutical technology group Redx Pharma, currently overseeing her department’s move to Alderley Park

Heather Standidge, associate director in development consultancy at Cushman & Wakefield, advisor to Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone

Jonathan Walsh, UK head of business park portfolio asset management at Patrizia, owner of Birchwood Park

Dr David Hardman, chairman of the UK Science Park Association and chief executive of Birmingham Science Park Aston’s innovation campus

Simon Hoad, executive director of Trinity Investment Management, which recently bought a £95m science park portfolio with Angelo Gordon, including Hexagon Tower in Blackley

Science Parks Development Update, in association with Kier Group, is due to be held on Thursday 12 May at Citylabs in Manchester from 8am to 1pm including lunch.

Click here to register.

Redx Pharma exits Liverpool for HQ at Alderley Park

The drug discovery and development firm is to establish a 74,000 sq ft drug development facility at Alderley Park, Cheshire, bringing together three subsidiary businesses onto one site.

The company has reached an agreement with Manchester Science Partnerships, which will see Alderley Park become the new home for Redx Oncology.

The business develops anti-cancer drugs and is currently based within the Royal Liverpool Hospital’s Duncan Building, which is due to be demolished in 2017.

Read more from Place Northwest here.