Science Central is an exciting and unique opportunity to create a research-focussed knowledge based district in the centre of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne that will attract best-in-class business and science. The idea is to support clustering around a number of cognate scientific disciplines, under the umbrella of Sustainability, within purpose built accommodation and associated facilities. The expectation is that the site will be a focal point for regeneration in the North-East, through innovative research in collaboration with industry. Importantly, the site will not be a science or business park in the conventional sense – both retail and accommodation blocks are proposed that will ensure a vibrant culture day and night.
So how will this be of advantage to NU? Science Central will be a showcase for some of our best research and engagement and will allow us to expand significantly our activities in these key areas, especially by collaborating with industry. More importantly, it offers an unique opportunity to build distinctiveness into our activities by engaging the region in cutting edge science and engineering, in a manner that would be difficult or impossible in a conventional university campus.
The concept of Science Central has been on the boil for some time, and by mid-summer we need to be making decisions on what academic activity should be based there. In many respects this opportunity is a blank canvas. However, given the level of investment from NU, it is essential that the vision of Science Central is fully realised. Specifically, the quality and value of the activity must be sufficient to secure substantial growth from external investment over an extended period of time to ensure academic and financial sustainability. Potential research activities on the Science Central site will therefore be required, amongst other things, to demonstrate quantitative evidence of best in class interdisciplinary research with a clear vision, a proven ability to attract co-locating business by translating novel discoveries into valuable new products and processes, a credible plan for growth in research activity arising from relocation, and a willingness to work with the city and region in promoting sustainability. Most importantly, there needs to be a passion to succeed.
A paper on Science Central has been circulated to all schools in SAgE, inviting bids to relocate academic activity to the site. We are keen to hear of any imaginative thinking that would build further distinctiveness into the concept and firmly establish NU and the region as successful prospectors in this novel venture – so let your creative juices flow! I’ll be providing regular updates on progress through this blog.