Thornton Science Park receives major cash injection to develop energy demonstrator

Posted on 6th July 2014

A multi-million pound grant to aid the development of cost effective, environmentally responsible sources of energy has been awarded to the University of Chester today, July 7, as part of a national Government funding announcement.

The Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP with Professor Graham Smith, Head of Natural Sciences at the University of Chester, during a visit to Thornton Science Park.
The Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP with Professor Graham Smith, Head of Natural Sciences at the University of Chester, during a visit to Thornton Science Park.
The award of this scheme is an important milestone in developing Thornton Science Park as a centre of excellence in energy systems, where academics and industry can work together to address skills gaps and investigate novel solutions or process optimisation in the energy sector.
Professor Nick Avis

Forming part of the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) Growth Deal proposal, the University has been successful in its request for almost £7m in direct funding to support the development of an energy demonstrator at Thornton Science Park.

The Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions, the Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP, visited the University’s Thornton Science Park, at Ince, this morning to announce the Cheshire and Warrington LEP’s historic Growth Deal with the Government which will see £142.7million invested in Cheshire and Warrington.

In addition to the Government’s commitment to invest £6.8m in the Thornton Energy Demonstrator, other partners and stakeholders have committed to investing a further £11m into this project.

Drawing on the capital equipment, facilities and experience of Thornton Science Park and the academic expertise of the University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering based there, the Thornton Energy Demonstrator will enable energy companies to test at scale new power saving and distribution technologies, enabling the development of low cost, environmentally responsible sources of energy. It will also explore behavioural aspects of energy consumption over the next 30 years.

Professor Tim Wheeler, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Chester, said: “The University is delighted to have received support from Government for this important initiative that seeks to contribute to resolving one of the big issues that faces contemporary society about energy security and sustainability.”

Professor Nick Avis, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, said: “The award of this scheme is an important milestone in developing Thornton Science Park as a centre of excellence in energy systems, where academics and industry can work together to address skills gaps and investigate novel solutions or process optimisation in the energy sector.”

Charlie Woodcock, Executive Director of the University’s Strategic Projects Office, added: “The support of our partners and stakeholders from both the public and the private sectors has been crucial to the University’s development of Thornton Science Park. As we move forward to deliver the next phase of our vision for the site, the funding announced today will enable us to respond more effectively to the requirements of the energy sector.”

The vision to develop Thornton Science Park as a centre of excellence for energy systems has been significantly enhanced by today’s announcement, which highlights the sub region’s and central Government’s recognition of Thornton Science Park as a national asset as a centre of employment and science.

The University of Chester’s portion of the funding forms part of the Government and the Cheshire and Warrington LEP’s commitment to support the expansion of science and innovation. It adds value to the projects already being developed on site and supports the next stage of the vision, which should see the University form part of the upcoming energy systems catapult development.

Formerly the Shell Technology Centre, Thornton Science Park is a world-class seat of excellence. This brand new state-of-the-art facility houses the University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering, including the School of Computer Science and Mathematics.

It is also home to the newly-developed High Growth Centre which is co-funded by the University of Chester and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The High Growth Centre offers Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and new start-up businesses valuable advice and support.

Designed specifically for companies operating in the Advanced Manufacturing, Automotive, Engineering and Environmental sectors, the unique blend of industry, innovation and academia and will deliver a much needed boost to the region.