A NEW report has revealed that Essex University is driving the economy across the east of England – contributing £464million to the regional economy and generating more than 5,000 jobs.

Commissioned by the university as an independent report, the Economic Impact Report shows the huge scope and impact of the university’s work.

Now the university, which has its main campus in Wivenhoe but also has a campus in Southend, is looking to take this even further to deliver a step-change in the way it works with business and other organisations.

This includes delivering more opportunities than ever before for businesses to connect with the university with building work on the next phase of its office development starting and a £10million innovation centre at the heart of its Knowledge Gateway research and business park due to be completed by summer 2017.

Other highlights of the report show how the university is a major job creator in the region – employing 2,014 staff directly and creating a further 2,900 jobs in the East of England.

It also found that students across the university three campuses – Colchester, Loughton and Southend – spend an estimated £52.3million off-campus per year, much of which gets ploughed into the Essex economy.

Business links generate more than £20million a year, including through consultancy and research contracts and “knowledge transfer partnerships”.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Forster said: “This is a defining moment for us. This report shows the huge contribution the university of Essex already makes to the regional and national economy and we are absolutely committed to increasing our economic impact.

“We believe we have a vital role to play in creating jobs, promoting growth and driving productivity.

“We are already delivering award-winning spin-out companies and business collaborations.

“Now we want to take this even further by forging new partnerships, sharing our world-leading research and providing thought leadership.”

Meanwhile, a new generation of young scientists from across Essex have been taking part in the Big Bang fair at the university’s Colchester campus.

The fair, organised in partnership with Engineering UK, showcased the exciting opportunities offered by STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths – to nearly 900 Year 9 and 10 students from 29 schools in Essex and Suffolk.

Now in its third year, the Big Bang fair offered the chance for businesses to engage students in interactive workshops and activities, challenging them to think differently about STEM subjects and explain what companies and organisations in the sector do.

Among the organisations taking part were Suitcase TV, which showed students how to control a live videoing stream using touchscreen and Essex Wildlife Trust who allowed students to investigate natural objects with a digital microscope.Big Bang is the UK’s largest celebration of STEM subjects for young people in the UK.