The Wilton Centre has welcomed the news that the UK’s biggest freeport will begin operating from its doorstep next month.
The creation of the Teesside Freeport was confirmed by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak MP in his Autumn Budget and further details have been provided by Ben Houchen, the Mayor of The Tees Valley Combined Authority and Redcar MP Jacob Young, whose constituency covers the Wilton Centre site.
Development land at the centre is included within the boundary of the freeport. The main building and Technical Development Area are located just outside.
A freeport offers businesses a range of benefits including tax relief, simplified customs procedures and a streamlined planning process. The Teesside Freeport – the first of eight announced for the UK – is expected to create 18,000 jobs over the next five years and generate billions of pounds for the local economy.
Toby Reid, the Executive Director of We Are Pioneer Group (WAPG) which owns the Wilton Centre and nine other science parks in Europe, said: “This is very exciting news for us, the companies already based here and those who – I’m sure more than ever – will want to join us.”
“Many of our businesses are already world leaders in biopharmaceuticals and renewables who benefit from the great office and laboratory space at the Wilton Centre, which has just seen an investment of £2m.
“Our location adjacent to Teesside Freeport and our R & D facilities provide a platform for companies to explore further opportunities which will lead to the creation of more local jobs.”
Mr Reid added: “Teesside is one of the most economic active areas of the UK with science and innovation leading the way. Our role is to create an environment to support the talent on our site and help build connections with government, universities, customers and suppliers to ensure these pioneering businesses continue to grow.”
At an event to launch the freeport Redcar MP Jacob Young said: “Teesside led the world in the first industrial revolution. What started on the banks of the Tees changed the world. Now, thanks to our Freeport, we can do the same again. This will bring thousands of jobs to Redcar and the Tees Valley in the clean industries of the future. In offshore wind, green energy, hydrogen and life sciences.”
Mayor Houchen said the Teesside Freeport was going to be a game-changer. It will “create thousands upon thousands of good-quality, well-paid jobs that local people are crying out for while driving growth and investment, ultimately putting more money in people’s pockets.”
Last month, commenting on the completion of its refurbishment, Mr Houchen described the Wilton Centre as “a jewel in our crown” and home to world-leading businesses finding solutions to some of humanities biggest challenges – from coronavirus to plastic recycling.
He said that the job opportunities at the centre demonstrated that people seeking a rewarding career in science did not need to move to Oxford, Cambridge or London. Some of the new facilities were of a similar standard as the head office of a big city company, and he predicted: “They are bound to attract more businesses to the growing success story of the Wilton Centre and the Tees Valley.”