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Back our region, businesses urge government

PUBLISHED: 11:51 20 May 2010 | UPDATED: 09:42 01 August 2010

Steve Sharratt, chair of the Space for Ideas business leaders group and regional council chairman of the CBI in the East of England.

Steve Sharratt, chair of the Space for Ideas business leaders group and regional council chairman of the CBI in the East of England.

David Blackmore

Business leaders last night urged the new coalition government to back the economy in the East of England and not cut investment to the region.

In a hard-hitting blueprint for economic growth in the region, which was published yesterday, calls were made for a 'stronger partnership' between business and government.

Business leaders last night urged the new coalition government to back the economy in the East of England and not cut investment to the region.

In a hard-hitting blueprint for economic growth in the region, which was published yesterday, calls were made for a “stronger partnership” between business and government.

Norfolk businesses were also encouraged to show their support by signing up to the blueprint - which will “transform” the region and deliver future prosperity.

Steve Sharratt, chair of the Space for Ideas business leaders group, said: "The growth opportunities in the East of England are the greatest in a generation.

"There are fundamental issues that the government, in partnership with business across our region, needs to address and overcome."

The Blueprint for Growth, East of England Business Delivering UK Economic Success, said the region has an economy worth £110 billion every year and is home to more than 430,000 businesses.

The report, which is being backed by Anglian Water and BT, states the region is forecast to create 400,000 new jobs by 2031 and has the most successful life sciences cluster outside of the US.

The East of England produces more entrepreneurs per head of population than the UK average, the report goes onto say.

Will Pope, chair of the East of England Development Agency, said: "A new parliament and a new plan for economic recovery is exactly the right moment to bring together talent and experience from business and government.

"The East of England is already leading the UK out of recession, creating more jobs, business, growth and investment. This is all based on fostering innovation and talent - two of the region's key strengths.

"Working together we will build on success, capitalise on these opportunities and deliver so much more for the UK."

The report sets out nine priorities that need to be met in the region and will hit the desks of MPs and Ministers in their first full week in office.

Delivering reliable, affordable next generation broadband and creating innovative, demand-driven support packages for businesses are two of the key priorities.

Ground breaking public and private sector innovation initiatives, support for business engagement with universities, making the most of low carbon opportunities and flexible and business-led skills provision are other priorities.

Investing in the security of energy supply, spending money to improve transport priorities, and access to finance completes the list.

Mr Sharratt recognised that reductions in the deficit will mean government prioritising but urged investment to the region must not be cut.

He added: "We would like anyone that is passionate about business, growth and the future of our economy to sign up to the blueprint.

"The more sign ups there are, the more our voice will be heard in Whitehall and beyond, and the more progress we will make in transforming our region."

Three Norfolk-based examples have been used in the report to show the government what the East of England already has to offer.

Norwich-based Hethel Engineering Centre, the Norwich Research Park and OrbisEnergy, situated in Lowestoft, are the three case studies.

Hethel Engineering Centre

The Norwich-based centre is the East of England's enterprise hub for advanced engineering and manufacturing.

The centre provides targeted business support and access to specialist equipment. It has created 105 jobs and supported 1,000 businesses.

The centre's learning centre has also supported 6,000 students in gaining advanced engineering skills.

Norwich Research Park

Norwich Research Park is home to one of the largest concentrations of bioscience research activity in Europe.

A partnership between the University of East Anglia, Norwich and Norfolk University Hospital and four other research centres, it brings together innovative science and technology companies and will create 5,000 new jobs by 2021.

OrbisEnergy

OrbisEnergy, based in Lowestoft, is the East of England's enterprise hub for offshore renewable energy.

The hub is home to 30 innovative businesses, helping the region to capitalise on the economic benefits of offshore renewables and acting as the catalyst for supply chain development and local regeneration.

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