Willmott Dixon expands presence in science and technology sector

Willmott Dixon has been appointed to refurbish a building that will house a multi-million pound Intelligent Energy System Demonstrator (IESD) project at University of Chester's Thornton Science Park.

  • Demonstrator will support and enable energy research, innovation and technology development
  • Project funded by the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership 'Local Growth Fund'
  • Local companies in the energy sector are being invited to engage with the project

The University of Chester is using the company's expertise in the university sector to create the building to house the IESD, whichwill be a flagship innovation project of the Cheshire Science Corridor - the new Enterprise Zone announced by the Government last autumn and developed by Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership. The project is due to be completed in spring 2017.

Willmott Dixon managing director Anthony Dillon:

“We are delighted to be working with the University of Chester to deliver the Intelligent Energy Systems Demonstrator project, a fantastic facility which will be central to growth of the energy research sector within Cheshire. Our focus on employing local companies will provide a great opportunity for local people to be involved with this innovative project.”

Engaging with the energy industry

Companies with an involvement in the energy sector are being invited to be part of the multi-million pound project which will, ultimately, shape the sector’s future.

The team behind the IESD project at Thornton Science Park is keen to hear from energy-related businesses who would be interested in being part of the facility, which will be aiming to aid the development of cost effective and environmentally responsible sources of energy.

Drawing on the wealth of technical expertise, facilities and supporting infrastructures that are available on site, the IESD will be a space where industry can work alongside the University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering (as is happening already throughout Thornton Science Park). The Demonstrator will become a nationally significant facility, primarily aimed at supporting and enabling energy research, innovation and technology development, to meet the growth needs of the sector. Energy companies will be able to test at scale new power saving and distribution technologies, aiding the development of low cost, environmentally responsible sources of energy.

The proposed development is being funded from the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), who will be contributing up to £6.8m from the Local Growth Fund awarded as part of the LEP’s Growth Deal

Philip Cox, Chief Executive of Cheshire and Warrington LEP:

“Science is one of Cheshire and Warrington’s key strengths and its growth will play a key role in our ambitions to deliver a £50bn economy for the area by 2040. The Energy Demonstrator is a significant development for the sector and for Thornton Science Park, one of the key sites within the Cheshire Science Corridor which recently launched as an Enterprise Zone. This nationally significant project will be a flagship for the site.”

Enabling productivity and growth

The shared facility will provide a flexible place (including office and laboratory space) for research, innovation and development. It will house various equipment for industry and academics, providing the capability for researchers to ‘plug and play’ with a number of facilities, across all aspects of energy systems (conventional and unconventional) and smart grids. All manner of energy sources are expected to be available for testing including the electrical grid, gas, solar voltaic and steam networks.

It will specifically focus on the following areas of the industry:

  • Computational modelling
  • Materials identification and analysis
  • Engineering and mechanical design
  • Environmental modelling and testing
  • Onshore Gas and Oil
  • Smart grids and cities (including the Internet of Things.)

Professor Joseph Howe, Executive Director of the Thornton Energy Research Institute at the University of Chester, said: “The Energy Demonstrator is a vital initiative for the energy sector and its future security and sustainability and the University is thrilled to be hosting this project. This facility will become the showcase for new and innovative energy technologies, supporting their commercialisation and providing models for the generation, supply and management of energy too.

“There is also a great knock-on potential for our students, not only with industrial work-placement opportunities, but we anticipate that the science generated within the Demonstrator will be used by University staff to inform the science and engineering curricula at Thornton, to create, develop and maintain a highly trained workforce in the sector.”

Project delivery

Refurbishment and construction of the facility is being project managed by AECOM and includes delivery from Ryder architects, Arup design and WYG quantity surveyors. The project is expected to be completed by March 2017, allowing tenants to take occupancy in June 2017.