The exciting plans – a major priority in Crawley’s Economic Recovery Plan 2022-2037 – were agreed by the Planning Committee at Crawley Borough Council on 1 November.
The project is closely aligned to the Coast to Capital plan to “Build Back Smarter, Stronger and Greener”. In January this year the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Board approved Crawley Borough Council’s bid for £8.4 million, funding earmarked from the government’s “Getting Building Fund” to enable the centre’s design, build and launch.
The council, working with partners from the Crawley Town Deal Board, was also successful in securing £2.5 million of government funding from the Crawley Towns Fund programme, including to invest in the operational establishment of the centre.
In March this year, Crawley Borough Council acquired TUI Travel House in the Crawley Business Quarter in Manor Royal Business District. Building works to convert it into the Innovation Centre are expected to start in February or March 2023, with the building opening before the end of 2023.
The centre will be a major technological innovation asset to support Crawley’s existing advanced engineering businesses in Manor Royal and to enable growth in new and emerging business sectors such as clean energy and quantum technologies. It will provide vital “grow-on” space which will enable hi-tech small businesses (SMEs) to “scale up”, prototype and demonstrate new technologies in clean energy, quantum tech and transportation tech.
The centre will help boost innovation and research and development output in Crawley and the Gatwick Diamond as well as unlock manufacturing jobs and attract business investment.
Additionally, the centre will expand the capacity of Crawley’s clean / green energy business cluster, which is vital as Crawley looks to meet its carbon reduction targets in the coming years.
The centre will also attract new high value jobs and business investment to boost Crawley’s recovery and the Gatwick Diamond.
The centre will actively engage with Crawley College and the Universities of Brighton, Chichester and Sussex on opportunities for local workforce tech apprenticeships and skills, SME research and development and business support, and for the centre to accommodate hi-tech academic “spin out” enterprises.
The aim is for the centre in the first instance to help create over 200 new jobs and benefit directly up to 40 local businesses. In the longer term, the aim is to help attract significant new manufacturing business investment into Crawley, including at new industrial space in Manor Royal.
"The Crawley Innovation Centre is a hugely exciting project, which will help to create new jobs and increase diversification in our economy. A key benefit of the centre will be that it expands the capacity of Crawley’s green energy businesses – hugely important as we look to meet our carbon reduction targets." Councillor Atif Nawaz, Cabinet member for Planning and Economic Development at Crawley Borough Council.
"Coast to Capital is delighted that this crucial project has reached another major milestone with planning permission now approved. The Crawley Innovation Centre will provide a huge boost to our region’s R&D capacity, supporting economic growth and jobs for years to come." Anthony Middleton, Acting Chief Executive at Coast to Capital LEP