Tech firms given room to grow in Wiltshire

Porton Science Park

Porton Science Park - Credit: Archant

From a new science incubator for tech firms to major road network improvements, Wiltshire is forging ahead. Lucy Parford looks at some of the major projects

Image of J17

Image of J17 - Credit: Archant

A new science incubator and grow-on space for science and technology businesses near Salisbury has completed its first phase.

Porton Science Park

Porton Science Park will promote collaboration and house new businesses, providing a facility for the creation of innovative products and spin out companies, in line with the Government’s industrial strategy.

Phase one of Porton Science Park includes new incubation and grow-on space totalling 3,950m2. Further development at the 10ha site provides for larger developments for established companies seeking direct association with the Porton scientific community.

Investment for the multi-million pound first phase has come from the government’s local growth fund secured by the SWLEP, the European Regional Development Fund and Wiltshire Council.

Ploughshare Innovations relocated to Porton Science Park in April. The company, which licenses defence and security technologies and creates start-up businesses, will now be able to support and collaborate with the other exciting new science and technology companies based at the science park.

Ploughshare has already created 12 start-ups and has plans for more. Now, with the new Porton Science Park, it is envisaged those new businesses will also locate themselves in the park, which will create more local jobs and retain investment in the region.

The J17 team

The J17 team - Credit: Archant

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The strong links Ploughshare has with the neighbouring Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), which is part of MOD, will provide a unique resource for the new science park tenants.

Ploughshare has worked for many years with Dstl and understands the organisation, has excellent relationships with senior staff and strong links with their world-class scientists and experts.

James Kirby, CEO of Ploughshare Innovations, said: “The new building is a state-of-the-art facility and we are looking forward to being at the heart of the science park, forging links with the other businesses here to help develop new technologies and grow prosperity for the region.

“Our move to Porton Down puts us closer to our main source of innovations, enabling us to maximise MOD’s investment in science and technology research.”

As the commercialisation arm for Dstl, Ploughshare has a unique set of skills and experience in identifying new markets for novel defence and security-related technologies. The team includes professional commercialisation managers who are experienced in creating investible business plans and have already helped a number of organisations to improve their market position and gain commercial advantage.

With their defence and security-related intellectual property portfolio, strong links with scientists at Dstl and across MOD, and their relationships with investment communities, Ploughshare brings a wealth of experience that is much valued by new start-up businesses.

Situated alongside the established research institutions of Dstl and Public Health England (PHE), Porton Science Park is in the ideal location to play a critical role in the strategy of Wiltshire Council and SWLEP to become a world-class cluster of expertise in the life science and defence technology sectors.

Junction 17, M4

In another project undertaken by SWLEP, works to ease congestion around Junction 17 of the M4 at Chippenham are now substantially complete.

The Jn17 scheme to install a new partial traffic signal system to the junction has been jointly funded by Highways England and the Local Growth Fund, which is run by the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

The Jn17 works will help reduce existing congestion on the M4 off-slips and prevent traffic from backing up onto the M4 motorway.

The opportunity has been taken to also upgrade existing highway infrastructure, and extend the resurfacing operations, beyond the original design, to include the motorway slip roads and some parts of the A429 to the north of Jn17.

Meanwhile, works on the latest phase of the A350 bypass dualling at Chippenham are progressing well.

A temporary traffic management switch in March saw the new northbound carriageway between Brook and Badger roundabout open to traffic and similar switches will be coming forward in the Chequers Roundabout area.

Works have also started along the A4 to the west of Chequers Roundabout through a series of night works.

Both schemes suffered some delays during the adverse weather in the early part of this year, but the site team is working hard to recover and the A350 Phase 3 project is on course to be completed by late summer.

Paddy Bradley, director at SWLEP, said: “This is a great example of a project benefitting from our Local Growth Fund.

“It will support business growth by reducing journey times and traffic congestion.”

Ongoing projects

1. An investment has been made of £7.247m for dualling of the A350 at Chippenham between Badger and Brook roundabouts and dualling of the approaches north and south of Chequers roundabout. Construction is due to be completed in September 2018.

2. A project is under way to enhance the station facilities at Chippenham Station and develop the surrounding land for improved car parking, commercial and residential property. Construction started in September last year and it is due to be completed in

March 2021.

3. Essential infrastructure improvements are taking place at the M4 Junction 16 in order to deliver the Wichelstowe development and ensure that the economic growth of Swindon is not hindered by traffic congestion and unreliable journey times. The investment in this project is £12.613m.

4. A series of sustainable transport infrastructure schemes, including improved cycleways, which support the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) bid and the delivery of the strategic growth areas of Eastern Villages, Wichelstowe and Tadpole Farm in Swindon, are under way. An investment of £4.375m has been made in the project which is due to be completed in September 2018.

Visit the Swindon & Wiltshire LEP website here.

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