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Discovery Park to receive £4.6m from South East Local Enterprise Partnership as it celebrates second birthday

By Chris Price

A business park is to be given £4.6m to build new roads and other infrastructure on the site.

The cash injection was announced as Discovery Park celebrated its second birthday on Thursday, at an event attended by more than 300 people.

The venture was created after Pfizer announced it was leaving its research facility in Sandwich in 2011, although the drugs giant continues to have a smaller presence there today.

Discovery Park will receive £4.6m from South East Local Enterprise Partnership

Since its launch, the site has grown from five tenants to 97 in two years.

These are mainly businesses in the science and technology sector but many other companies, from accountants to law firms, also have operations.

The latest of these is set to be Canterbury Christ Church University, which managing director Paul Barber announced in the celebrations.

The new funding comes from the £46m Growing Places fund, allocated to the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) by the Government a few years ago.

Earlier this month the body was awarded a £442m Growth Fund to invest in Kent, East Sussex and Essex in the next two years.

Peter Jones, chairman of South East Local Enterprise Partnership

SELEP chairman Peter Jones said: “This money for Discovery Park is actually the last of the Growing Places fund, which has been superseded by the larger amount we are getting under the Growth Fund.

“Management at Discovery Park have a lot of changes they want to make to the site to take forward their plans for development.

“They are going to have to put in new power lines, roads, sewerage and all kinds of things to do those developments and we hope this will be an important contribution to them getting to those new facilities to attract new companies.

“The park has got the potential to create a lot of new jobs and is clearly working very well.

“I’m mightily impressed at how this whole project is being taken forward and there comes a time when you have to invest in success so that it generates the income, profits and wages for people in the future.”

Discovery Park managing director Paul Barber

The move by Canterbury Christ Church University has been prompted in part by East Kent College's decision to move its administrative staff and science curriculum to the site.

Managing director Paul Barber said: "The university is an exceptional business and they are aware of the collaboration taking place between tenants.

"A lot of academic institutions realise that to attract good students they need to run courses that are very relevant to the business world.

"Many of these will involve placements with top companies. So they will be sending a few people to work here for six months to see how it goes for them and if it works, they may stay longer."

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