A government minister today announced the official opening of Sussex Innovation – Croydon. Anna Soubry MP, Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise, met with experts from the business incubator as it opened its first off-campus site, signalling an expansion of its ‘growth engine’ model across the south-east region.

Sussex Innovation – Croydon builds on the huge success of the existing Sussex Innovation Centre at the University of Sussex, which has helped to create around 50 multi-million-pound businesses in the region over the past 20 years. Being a branch of a university means that Sussex Innovation can offer its members unique access to some of the brightest academic minds in the UK, who bring expertise in areas such as psychology, statistics, and text analytics.

Speaking at the launch event this morning, Ms Soubry said: “It gives me great pleasure to launch this centre. It will help provide small businesses and start-ups with the support they need to grow, create jobs and reach their full potential. The Government is working hard to back entrepreneurs across the country, we want the UK to be the best place in Europe to start and grow a business.”

Alan Colman of Plessey Semiconductors demonstrates the EPIC sensor, developed from technology patented at the University of Sussex, to Anna Soubry MP and Gavin Barwell MP

The minister was joined by Gavin Barwell, MP for Croydon Central, Patricia Hay-Justice, Mayor of Croydon, as well as some of the University’s academic experts and prominent members of the local business community.

Mike Herd, Executive Director of Sussex Innovation, was keen to stress the institution’s approach to supporting ‘scale-ups’ as well as start-ups. “What you find with many incubators is that they look to make a relatively short-term intervention, and help a start-up to achieve sustainability,” he said. “We’re interested in what can happen after that – how we can help the best ideas to continue growing rapidly, whilst retaining a sustainable model. It’s this kind of ‘scale-up’ support that can do the most for the region, and the country, in terms of delivering economic impact, growth and jobs.”

The importance of such scale-up businesses to the UK economy was highlighted in an independent report to the government by Sherry Coutu, CBE, last year.

The Croydon hub will provide a base for up to 30 high-growth potential companies with over 300 employees, and support more than 100 local businesses through its network. Over the next three years it is anticipated that the tenants will generate £6 million in turnover and raise £1 million in investment.

Professor Michael Davies, the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, said: “We recognised two decades ago that universities like Sussex have huge innovation potential and a lot to offer growing businesses. We’re delighted to be bringing our successful model to Croydon, one of the most exciting places to do business right now. By ‘putting flags in the ground’ around the region beyond our campus, we hope to enable a two-way flow of positive opportunity between us and local and business communities.”