Cheshire and Warrington’s Enterprise Zone, the Cheshire Science Corridor, officially launched on 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: “Science and Energy have been identified as key strategic sectors with significant growth potential across Cheshire’s main sites, which together make up the Cheshire Science Corridor. These sites are home to a wealth of assets and an existing highly skilled workforce that offer huge benefits to businesses looking to locate. The Enterprise Zone will enable us to offer significant incentives to attract more science based businesses and support the growth of these key sectors.”
Cllr Terry O’Neill, leader of Warrington Borough Council said: ‘This is a fabulous accolade and is the first Enterpise Zone status for any area of Warrington. Significantly it is recognition of the importance of Birchwood, which employs over 30,000 people and is the UK HQ for the nuclear industry’.
Christine Gaskell, Chair of Cheshire and Warrington LEP, said: “As the home to a leading and nationally significant science sector, the launch of the Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone is an exciting opportunity for Cheshire and Warrington to drive further economic growth and for us to have the capacity to deliver the crucial infrastructure we need to support it.
“Our aim is to make Cheshire and Warrington the best place in the country to set up and grow a business and the Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone is a flagship of this initiative.”
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.”