Newcastle Science City set to be extremely significant for the region's future

Science City has been a decade in the making but now, with The Core, it opens this autumn. Patrick Joseph looks at why it is so important for the region’s future

The Core at Newcastle's Science City
The Core at Newcastle's Science City

Newcastle's Science City has been seen as an abstract term for some time now, but – with the opening of The Core, a state-of-the-art building housing high growth technology and science-based businesses, it has turned into something real for the people of Newcastle.

The former centre of the city’s brewing industry and before that the site of the North Elswick Colliery, Science Central is the biggest city centre development in the country and the flagship location of the decade-long Science City project.

Science Central will evolve over the next 15 to 20 years, creating an estimated 1,900 jobs on a site which will see university institutes spring up next to offices, homes and public squares.

The bricks and mortar of The Core make the project tangible in people’s minds but its success will be in creating the environment and developing the skills to help the region become a science and technology powerhouse in enterprise and academia attracting the brightest minds and best businesses.

Fiona Standfield, director of Newcastle Science City, the partnership responsible for delivering Science Central, said: “Last year Science Central was identified in the North East LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan as a key innovation hub and economic asset, and this has been reiterated by the Prime Minister this week following the announcement of the North East Growth Fund, in which Science Central plays a key role.

“The development will have a significant impact on the future economic prosperity of the region, helping to bring more and better jobs to the North East, by driving innovation and attracting employers to locate here.

Fiona Standfield, new director of Science City
Fiona Standfield, new director of Science City

“With The Core opening in just a few months’ time and the promise of more investment to come, this is a truly exciting time not only for Science Central, but for the wider region too.”

Paul Woolston, chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership said: “We’re delighted that Science Central will be open for business in the autumn, which will herald a key milestone for the project. The Core will act as a catalyst for future investment in Science Central, and will provide the ideal environment for innovation activity and collaborative opportunities for businesses of all sizes.”

Environments like The Core are needed as there is already a shortage of high-quality Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths graduates entering the UK economy and demand for such graduates is set to increase over the coming years.

The 2013 Education and Skills Survey found 39% of UK firms are struggling to recruit workers with the advanced and technical STEM skills needed.

Newcastle University's investment in Science Central

£50m

 

The Core and Science Central provide the right environment for these workers to flourish with close links with Newcastle University, the attraction of being in the heart of a vibrant city and at the centre of an exciting science/tech and business intersection.

Newcastle University has recognised the attraction of Science Central for its future students and plans for nationally significant new university research facilities to be built on neighbouring plots to The Core are already underway. Last year an announcement was made by Newcastle University to invest £50m in Science Central.

It is widely acknowledged that STEM subjects are integral to the UK’s prosperity and success: the UK is the world’s sixth largest manufacturer, engineering turnover is around £800 billion per year, and whilst the UK makes up only 1% of the world’s population, we produce 10% of the world’s top scientific research.

Yet despite this, even though STEM graduates have the potential to earn amongst the highest salaries of all new recruits, employers find it difficult to recruit STEM skilled staff. Science City is a forward-looking move that puts the right ingredients together to put the city, and the region, ahead in the race for producing talented, skilled graduates.

Professor Peter Higgs at the unveiling of a plaque in The Core, a building under construction in the new science park
Professor Peter Higgs at the unveiling of a plaque in The Core, a building under construction in the new science park

Newcastle City Council and Newcastle University are predicting that Science Central and the Science City project as a whole will put the region ahead in a significant race. Science Central is anticipated to create 1,900 jobs over the next 15 to 20 years which will supporting economic growth in the area and boosting the local neighbourhood. These highly-skilled, well paid jobs will put many millions into the economy.

Indeed in The Core alone it is predicted that £20m will be generated in the region’s economy by those who are attracted to - and stay in - the region to be a part of Science Central.

Newcastle City Council leader Coun Nick Forbes, said: “The Core is much more than a state-of-the-art building – it is a bold statement of confidence in Newcastle.

“The fact that more than half of the building is already let – four months before it is due to open - shows a real demand among businesses who want to locate in Newcastle.

“The 400 high-quality jobs it will create, and the £20m economic boost, are fundamental in helping us build a strong knowledge-based economy that will enable the city to compete on an international stage.”

With aspirations like these the reasons behind Science Central are crystal clear – and if the achievements are anything like the predictions the £250 of government, university and European money that’s been put into the city’s future will be a wise investment.

WHAT IS THE CORE?

Paul Fallon of The Core
Paul Fallon of The Core

The Core has been designed with urban sustainability at its heart. Features include a four-storey living wall, bee hotels, planted sedum roofs, rainwater harvesting and a series of adjoining public squares.

It is managed by award-winning facilities management and consultancy company, Creative Space Management, which also manages Ouseburn’s Toffee Factory and is aiming to achieve 85% occupancy within a year.

Paul Fallon, project manager at Creative Space Management, said: “The Core will be at the heart of one of the most innovative and inspiring city centre developments in a generation.

“The Core has been designed to serve as a crossing point between research expertise and commercialisation. Businesses based here will benefit from unique access to networks that could gain them crucial competitive advantage.

“This will be the key address to have in Science Central – and the hub of a great deal of activity in the coming years.”

The Core will provide state-of-the-art offices for high growth technology and science-based businesses.

For more information visit www.thecorenewcastle.co.uk

WHAT IS SCIENCE CENTRAL?

Science Central is a 24-acre development delivered by Newcastle Science City, a partnership between Newcastle City Council and Newcastle University.

The development aims to become an international exemplar in sustainability, building on the city’s existing knowledge and scientific expertise. The development will regenerate previously run-down areas in the west end of Newcastle, creating a new urban quarter in the city centre.

With the aim of attracting high tech firms to locate there, the Newcastle Science City partnership is committed to creating a lasting legacy at Science Central.

Read more on Science Central

Tallest living wall in England pops up in Newcastle's Science Central

North East law firm Bond Dickinson's vital role in Science Central development

Professor Peter Higgs honoured in Newcastle with Freedom of the City

Newcastle University unveil £50m investment into Science Central

New director's vision for Science City success

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