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There’s never been a more exciting, vibrant time to be an SME in the Cheshire and Warrington region. This area offers a range of opportunities, including Thornton Science Park, where the Innovation to Commercialisation project is headquartered. The park is located in the heart of the Cheshire Science Corridor, in easy reach of Chester, Liverpool and Manchester. The Science Park is perfectly positioned for innovative and growing businesses in the North West, particularly those in the energy, environmental, automotive and advanced manufacturing sectors.      

The Cheshire Science Corridor is an international corridor of science and innovation, which connects various regional centres and initiatives throughout the North West, with the M56 motorway as its spine.  Cheshire has several of the most significant science-based assets in the north of England, with some of them known on the world stage. As well as Thornton Science Park, located in the east of the region, the corridor’s key assets include Capenhurst Technology Park, Sci-tech Daresbury, Birchwood Park’s Nuclear and Forensics Clusters, Alderley Park (Life Sciences) and the facilities at Jodrell Bank and the Square Kilometre Array, the largest, most sensitive radio telescope in the world.

The Science Corridor and its environs is home to a strong, educated and entrepreneurial labour market with an employment rate, skills attainment and business start-up ratio exceeding both the national and regional averages. The area has a 74% employment rate, with 35% of adults qualified to NVQ Level 4 or above.  Within the Science Corridor, there is an array of high-quality educational institutions, including The University of Chester, which works directly with businesses at Thornton Science Park. There is also Reaseheath College and the Colleges of Mid, West and South Cheshire. On the edges of the Science Corridor, the University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University, the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University provide the finest educational and research opportunities in the North West. The Cheshire Science Corridor is well-connected by road, rail, water and air, with easy access to the motorway network. There’s also two international airports, Manchester and Liverpool John Lennon, and the Port of Liverpool and the Manchester Ship Canal can also be accessed.

The UK government has awarded the Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone status. Enterprise Zones are designated areas across England that are great places to do business especially for both new and expanding firms. Enterprise Zones are part of the Government's wider Industrial Strategy to support businesses and enable local economic growth. Being situated within these areas is seen as a major boost for business connections and facilities.

The technology hub at Thornton Science Park is also the focal point of the Innovation to Commercialisation (I2C) programme. Any SME registered or trading in Cheshire and Warrington is eligible to apply for I2C. Applicants must have a turnover of less than €50 million and employ fewer than 250 employees. If you are an SME and meet the criteria to take part in I2C, please visit our website and complete the application form at www1.chester.ac.uk/i2c

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