Opinion: Mira's example will help science parks' backers
Two weeks after Ford axed hundreds of jobs in the UK, Business Secretary Vince Cable would have been glad to have some positive news about the motoring industry, writes Business Editor Ian Griffin.
Dr Cable was at the Motor Industry Research Association (Mira) – at Higham-on-the-Hill, near Hinckley, yesterday to open the first phase of a £300 million expansion (see page 3).
Mira is to build a 1.75 million square foot development which will include a technology park and an engineering base.
Yesterday, Dr Cable opened a £6 million centre.
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This is part of a major investment which will create a world-class centre for motor manufacturers and engineering firms to research innovations aimed at making vehicles greener and safer.
US defence contractor Lockheed Martin, German electrical specialist Bosch Engineering and Hinckley's Triumph Motorcycles are among those attracted to the site on the back of this investment.
The ability to pull in such big names – and potentially big employers – led to the Government giving the site enterprise zone status last year.
Since the development was announced in 2010, 188 technology-related jobs have been created at the park.
The aim is to create 2,000 jobs in the next 10 years.
The development of the 820-acre site is meant to make this complex one of the top five vehicle engineering centres in the world.
It is the kind of hi-tech business park Leicestershire has been trying to get off the ground for years.
It will also help make up for the £31 million a year lost to the regional economy following the closure of AstraZeneca's gigantic pharmaceutical complex in Loughborough last year.
Plans to create science parks in Leicester and Loughborough are yet to gather any momentum, while a scheme to develop a business park at Donington Park is in its early days.
All these proposed developments will be looking to lure potential occupiers at the MIPIM world property show in Cannes next March.
The fact big names have already signed up to Mira will help to put it in pole position.