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New technology hub possibilities to be explored

A technology hub to help drive new businesses and support existing firms could be created in Stowmarket.

General view of Stowmarket - Market Place.... PICTURE: Mecha Morton. .. (3393769)
General view of Stowmarket - Market Place.... PICTURE: Mecha Morton. .. (3393769)

Mid Suffolk District Council has engaged business consultants Nautilus Associates to carry out a £48,000 feasibility study exploring the possibilities of a new technology hub.

As part of the study they will look into a potential site or sites in the town and investigate the type of facilities firms in the area need, before a business plan for the centre's operation is developed.

The initiative is part of the council's Open for Business strategy, which was approved earlier this year.

Cllr Gerard Brewster, Mid Suffolk cabinet member for economy, said: “This work is excellent news for Stowmarket and could be the first step towards turning our largest market town into one of Suffolk’s hotspots for technology.

"It’s early days, but this study will identify just what a new tech hub could look like. With excellent rail and road connections and sitting in the centre of our county, Stowmarket is perfectly placed to lead the way for all of Suffolk.”

This week, the district council confirmed architects were already involved, with concepts set to be drawn up over the course of the consultation based on the feedback received.

The hub itself could be a single building with areas for different companies, or it could be in a 'campus' style approach. Depending on feedback, it could be a new building or a conversion of an existing one. A council spokesman said any hub building would be equipped with the latest technology, have a good power supply and high-speed broadband connections.

A range of sites in and around Stowmarket are being considered for the hub itself, with the study asking where would be most suitable for technology companies – if a hub within walking distance of the train station would be best or a site closer to the A14.

The consultation and study based on the feedback should be completed by the end of the year. It will be used to develop a business plan and fully-costed operational model, along with an assessment of capital costs and a project delivery programme. At this point, the council will consider the full project and look at funding options.

Kim Duffy, of Nautilus Associates, said: "We are keen to explore the options and to recommend the right kind of facility that will provide first-class accommodation for start-ups and growing companies across Stowmarket and Mid Suffolk, offering all the support they need to help them thrive and prosper.”

The council is also surveying local businesses – to be included email kim.duffy@nautilus.uk.com

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