City’s knowledge economy set for growth

Universities in Greater Manchester will continue to embark on capital projects in the coming years despite funding upheaval, according to Huw Morris, pro vice-chancellor at Salford University.

Morris said new halls of residence will be built on a private finance basis and existing plans such as Salford's proposed £40m arts centre, recently published, were proof funding existed for capital projects. He also pointed to Manchester Metropolitan University's new £25m arts building and the £100m Birley Fields development in Hulme. Manchester University is planning to redevelop the business school and a £35m sports centre is planned by Bolton University.

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However, the number of new buildings will be less than in the past decade and funding would come from increasingly local sources such as local authority pension funds and private businesses supporting education.

Morris, sponsor internally of capital projects at Salford, also said the number of private sector higher education providers such as law and business schools in Greater Manchester had risen sharply in recent years, from 19 to 32 in the past five years.

Jane Davies, chief executive of Manchester Science Parks, said the Corridor Manchester area down and around the Oxford Road area was coming to the end of a £2.5bn development programme over an eight-year period.

Davies said successful science parks depended on four factors, all prevalent in Manchester: people with the right skills, financial support, services such as digital connectivity and knowledge in terms of flow of ideas. Manchester Science Parks made a profit of £270,000 on turnover of £3.4m in 2010. The MSP community is home to 1,200 people in 145 companies and plans to double its existing space in the next ten years.

The wider Corridor Manchester area generates £2.8bn a year for the economy, equal to 22.5% of the city's productivity.

Knowledge ManchesterAmong new developments planned for the university district are the extension of the Whitworth Art Gallery, the patients and visitors' hotel for the Royal Infirmary, and the new chemical engineering building for Manchester University.

Huw Morris and Jane Davies were speaking at a Place North West Knowledge Economy event sponsored by Wates Construction and held in association with Manchester Science Parks.

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