South Devon College lights the way in grand switch on of Hi Tech & Digital Centre

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On Friday 11th October, South Devon College hosted a grand ‘Evening of Illumination’ which stakeholders and key partners of the College attended to witness the final stage of the Hi Tech & Digital Centre development, with an inaugural impressive and dramatic display of the external light installation, solidifying the Centre’s focus on hi-tech, digital and creativity.

The connection with light is especially important and relevant as many of the local and regional businesses the College supports in the hi-tech sector are closely connected to photonics. Photonics, the physical science of light, is a significant and continually growing area of technological importance as it drives so much of our modern world, from communication systems with fibre optics, to lasers for use in medicine or manufacturing, construction and of course lighting technology itself with LEDs becoming increasingly prevalent. The hi-tech industry is a growing sector not only locally and regionally, but also nationally and internationally. It is high on the priority list for supporting better jobs and business growth and in turn economic improvement, inward investment and further regeneration for the community of Torbay.

The design of the lighting for the building, built by Midas Construction, has been provided by the Award Winning Michael Grubb Studio. The College joins a long and illustrious list of Michael’s clients, which includes Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the McLaren 2018 F1 launch, and the Guinness Store House in Dublin.

The lighting uses efficient LED and Lensing technology to provide the highest performance and lowest energy consumption and which have been specified from suppliers who utilise sustainable manufacturing processes, as well as ensuring the light unit components can be replaced in the future to avoid unnecessary wastage. They are manufactured from largely recyclable or reusable materials and components, and operate between dusk and 10pm. This ensures there is no wasted energy beyond the operating hours of the College and minimises light pollution.

The lighting installation has been designed to be efficient, using the equivalent energy of an average electric kettle running for the same duration to minimise consumption requirements. To aid this along with meeting the operational needs of the Hi Tech & Digital Centre, a PV installation of 130 plus panels is located on the roof producing 120% of the required building needs, resulting in the centre achieving a BREEAM rating of Excellent along with EPC A rating.

Games and Interactive Media student, Ollie Gisborne was invited as the VIP to do the big switch on. Ollie had a direct impact on the look of the inside of the Hi Tech & Digital Centre; he won a student competition to design the logo for the Java Café, which sits just inside the main entrance of the building. As a congratulations for winning the competition, he was also awarded with an Oculus Go VR headset.

Laurence Frewin, Principal at South Devon College, said:

“As the new Principal of South Devon College, it is an honour to host this first formal event at our brand new Hi Tech & Digital Centre, welcoming students, staff and valued key partners, sponsors and stakeholders. This evening is particularly special as we were able to show, for the first time in public, an illuminating display that reinforces and reflects the Centre’s focus not only on hi tech, digital and creativity but also our sustainable credentials.”

Rt Hon Jake Berry MP, Minister of State for Local Growth, said:

“We’re committed to boosting economic growth across the whole of the UK and levelling up our regions as we prepare to leave the EU on 31 October.

“The South Devon College Hi Tech & Digital Centre will provide individuals with the skills that employers need to support their growth in a range of important local hi-tech businesses. It has been supported by £8.13m from the Local Growth Fund.

“Our investment in Growth Deal projects throughout the regions are helping to ensure that UK growth is inclusive and that no areas are left behind. Torbay and the wider Heart of the South West have an important role to play in the post-Brexit economies of the future.”

Steve Hindley CBE DL, said:

“The hi-tech sector is a valuable industry for the Heart of the South West and is part of the overarching theme of our emerging Local Industrial Strategy – Clean Growth.  

“Torbay and the wider area has established strengths in the sector; so our investment of £8.13m in this new centre at South Devon College will enable local businesses to benefit from the high level skills required for growth.

“It complements our Growth Deal investment in the new Electronics and Photonics Innovation Centre (EPIC) on a neighbouring site to South Devon College, which provides innovation space for growing hi-tech businesses.”

Mike Borkowski, Business Development Director at Midas Construction, part of the Midas Group, said:

“The Hi Tech & Digital Centre has been an exciting project to work on and we are delighted to see it completed, open and ready for use. There is a significant focus on economic development in the Torbay area and this new forward-thinking facility will help provide current and future generations with education and training in these growing sectors. As a regional business, we are thrilled and very proud to have played a part in it.” 

Yvonne Hawkins, HEFCE Director for Universities and Colleges, said,

“We are delighted to support this proposal which will deliver new provision, higher level skills, and successful employability outcomes for both students and employers in the South West and nationally. HEFCE’s investment will support key higher education benefits and help to lever in additional funding for the project from other partners. We look forward to working with the College as the new development unfolds and particularly as the impacts for students, higher education, and technical skills are delivered.”

Martin Simpson, Senior Project Architect at LHC Design, said:

“It’s great to see the delivery of this project that has led on from our work with the college regarding the campus masterplan & LDO approval. It has been a truly collective engagement process between all involved which is evident in the way that the building, its interiors and landscape all complement each other to deliver a great facility for future learners.”

The innovative £17 million Centre provides a visionary facility for further education and training support towards the ever-expanding hi-tech, manufacturing, digital and creative sectors across Torbay, South Devon and wider regions. The Centre aims to inspire the local community by showcasing the latest in world class technology and equipment. The interior layout has been designed to follow cutting edge principles in future proofing an outstanding teaching and learning environment. Great emphasis is being placed on flexibility of space, the importance and need for social and collaborative study areas and layouts of rooms which will mirror workplace processes and practice.

The three-storey building, designed by talented architects from LHC Design, includes a link connection to the main building, with a further 15 dedicated work spaces for individual business units as well as two large, open plan collaboration zones, in addition to specialist computing, engineering, design facilities and the 100 seater screening suite.

With the facilities available within the Hi Tech & Digital Centre for training and education, and the focus on supporting the rapidly expanding sector in Torbay and surrounding areas, it’s expected that more talented individuals will find the opportunity to explore successes like this in a range of different sectors.

The Hi Tech & Digital Centre (HTDC) combines £8.13m from the Heart of the South West LEP’s Growth Deal funding from the Heart of the South West LEP, as well as funding support from European Regional Development Fund, Higher Education Funding Council for England, Garfield Weston Foundation, Torbay Council, South Devon College and private sector investment. It will be a flagship facility, alongside other Institutes of Technology developments in the country.