A £2.3MILLION centre of excellence for the construction industry has opened, with the promise of 130 new jobs

Building work has finished on the I-Construct innovation hub, based off Springwood Drive in Braintree.

The two-storey building – consisting of a technology suite, exhibition space, conference facilities and meeting areas – is home to a team offering one-to-one mentoring, grant schemes and advice to small and medium sized firms connected to the construction industry.

It will be a place where innovative ideas – such as robotics, off-site construction and modelling software – are shared and celebrated.

It is hoped that the sharing of ideas and opportunities will increase innovation and productivity in the construction sector.

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The state-of-the-art building has been built to extremely high environmental standards using innovative construction techniques and modern materials.

The design means that the building will be highly energy efficient when in use.

The business support programme at the hub will be run by the Haven Gateway Partnership and serve businesses across Essex, Kent and East Sussex.

It will support over 350 businesses, launch 150 new products and services and create up to 130 jobs.

An official ceremony to mark the opening will be held in the New Year.

Braintree Council economic growth boss Tom Cunningham said: “Our investment into this flagship centre shows how we are playing our part in growing businesses, supporting the local economy and creating jobs.

“This hub will be a great place to celebrate the innovations taking place in the construction industry and not only that, it will open up opportunities for residents and businesses in our district and beyond.

“I’ve been a supporter of this project coming to Braintree from the start and I’m thrilled that it’s come to fruition.”

Haven Gateway Partnership chairman George Kieffer said: “I-Construct provides a platform and a network to help us build back better, using modern methods of construction and materials particularly by smaller and medium-sized businesses which do not have the resources of the national builders.”

He added: “I-Construct will play a major role in making construction businesses more competitive and is an excellent example of co-operation between government, the private sector and further education.”

Businesses interested in the support available can visit i-construct.org.uk.