FOUR thousand new jobs will be created in Chelmsford under plans to build a 50-acre hi-tech business campus launched this week.
The Anglia Ruskin MedTech campus will be built between the university and Broomfield Hospital and looks set to rival medical technology parks in Silicon Valley and other parts of the US.
The project is a collaboration between Anglia Ruskin and Chelmsford, Harlow and Southend councils and will also involve similar parks being constructed in the two other local authorities, creating 12,500 jobs across Essex and boosting the UK medical technology sector by £1.2 billion.
The partnership – the first of its kind in the Britain – is expected to attract dozens of medical technology firms to the county.
It is scheduled to open in 2014 and according to Steve Packham, chief executive at Chelmsford City Council, it is "another feather in the cap of Chelmsford", following the recent successful city-status bid.
"We've always had great employment but you find that with the best-paid jobs people will always travel into London," said Mr Packham, who attended the launch at the House of Commons.
"We hope that our campus, as well as the other two in Harlow and Southend, will further boost jobs in Chelmsford and Essex, and give young people who are just starting their careers exciting opportunities to work in the area."
His council has earmarked 40-50 acres of land for the development, which could create more than 500,000 square feet of floor space for businesses involved in medical technology.
"There will be room to breathe and it certainly will not be overdeveloped," Mr Packham said.
"We want to create an attractive place where companies from places like Germany and the US will say: 'wow – this is a place where we want to do business'."
He said he hoped work on the park would begin in 2013 and that the first medical technology company would move in in 2014.
Anglia Ruskin University is the lead academic partner in the project and will provide the companies with the latest research and access to medical expertise – including testing and clinical trial facilities.
The university has more than 30,000 students, including 8,000 studying subjects relevant to medical technology, and is home to the Postgraduate Medical Institute – a leading research centre.
It is thought the design of the three sites will mirror similar developments in the US, including the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, one of the largest private medical centres in the world
Launching the scheme, the Parliamentary under secretary for health Earl Howe said the three sites would "provide a springboard for economic growth and development in the UK".
He added: "The UK has a proud history of invention and innovation.
"With demands in healthcare increasing, now more than ever adoption and widespread uptake of medical innovations across our healthcare system is critical to realising the benefits from the latest advances in medical technology and clinical practice.
"Innovation is the only way to deliver a healthcare system for future generations."