STEM Excellence a step closer in Darlington as National Horizons Centre tops out | Wates

Wates Construction has achieved a major milestone in the construction of Teesside University’s £22.3m flagship research, teaching and training facility as the development reached its uppermost point just five months after building work began.

Bringing the flagship National Horizons Centre a step closer, the topping out event saw Teesside University’s Director of Campus Services, Darren Vipond, and Director of Academic Enterprise, Laura Woods, join Wates Construction on site to celebrate the progress at the UK’s newest centre of excellence for the biologics sector.

Work on the new research and development campus began in February this year and entails the creation of teaching, learning and collaboration spaces as well as hi-tech laboratories and a state-of-the-art computing suite.

Set to drive growth in the regional and national bioscience industries, the National Horizons Centre will sit at the heart of a cluster of excellence on Darlington’s Central Park alongside the National Biologics Manufacturing Centre and the University’s Centre for Professional and Executive Development.

The project has also resulted in a significant boost to local training and employment since Wates commenced construction. This includes the creation of seven new jobs, four apprenticeship positions, 12 work placements and 15 school visits and education workshops. Over 100 apprentices have also been supported on the project through the engagement of local supply chain partners.

Wates’ commitment to support local training and employment also includes its industry leading Building Futures programme. Designed to give jobseekers a career kickstart in construction, the two-week course saw a group of local people join the team on-site to get hands-on experience in trades including plumbing and joinery.

Paul Dodsworth, Business Unit Director, Wates Construction North East and Yorkshire, said:

“The team has made excellent progress in the months since construction began and topping out the National Horizons Centre is a significant milestone in the creation of a centre that will ultimately be at the pinnacle of bioscience research and development.

Not only is this development important for regional and national advanced manufacturing but it is also of major benefit to the people of Darlington and it makes me proud to see so many local people joining our team to train on this project.”

Darren Vipond, Director of Campus Services at Teesside University, commented:

“The National Horizons Centre will play an important role in driving the knowledge economy of the Tees Valley through provision of education, training and collaborative innovation.

We are delighted that construction is on track and look forward to welcoming staff, students and or partners in industry to this first-class facility when it opens in spring 2019.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, said:

“This latest milestone, just five months after I was on site to break ground, shows construction on the state-of-the-art facility isn’t slowing down.

Our £17.5million commitment to the centre also shows our dedication to the vital bioscience and digital sectors, which will drive jobs and cement our area as a leader in innovation and research. The National Horizons Centre will deliver top-quality training to future generations and add even more value to Darlington’s Business Central site.”

The National Horizons Centre is being established to support the bioscience sector, which includes biologics, biomedical sciences, industrial biotechnology and digital. It will play a key part in driving STEM skills and economic growth in the Tees Valley, through industry-focused education and training and collaborative research and innovation.

The new centre has been financially supported by the Tees Valley Combined Authority and the European Regional Development Fund. The Combined Authority’s contribution of £17.5m represents its single biggest investment in the Tees Valley.

The project was procured via the YORbuild2 framework, which has been developed to provide an efficient and collaborative approach to the procurement of construction projects. It can be accessed by local authorities, public sector bodies or third sector organisations across the Yorkshire and Humber region, Sheffield LEP area, North East England and Lincolnshire.

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