University of Chester saves Shell Technology Centre

The old college at the University of Chester

The University of Chester has acquired the Shell Technology Centre in order to maintain the site’s contribution to research and development for both industry and academia.

As a registered charity, the University will take legal ownership of the 66-acre site through a ‘gifting’ agreement with Shell, which is currently relocating its operations to a number of other premises in the UK and overseas.

There were fears that this would lead to the complete closure of the Thornton-based Shell Technology Centre, which has been home to R&D activities for almost 75 years, with the loss of many jobs and inward investment for the region.

However, the University of Chester’s investment plans for the Shell Technology Centre will now spur the creation of up to 2000 jobs in the Ellesmere Port area over the next five years according to Professor Tim Wheeler, the University of Chester’s vice-chancellor.

As well as supporting academic study, the Shell Technology Centre will offer accommodation for 22 incubator businesses in the environment, engineering, advanced manufacturing and automotive sectors.

A dedicated science park for collaborative research with commercial and industrial partners is also planned within the M56/A55 Industrial Innovation Corridor. Particular specialisms and facilities at the park will include an international-standard food processing and sensory solutions centre.

“The University’s vision for the Thornton site is to build on the excellent foundations laid by Shell to create an internationally-recognised, financially self-sustaining and multi-disciplinary campus that targets and stimulates private sector growth through employment, education and inward investment,” said Prof Wheeler.

Development of the Shell Technology Centre will be funded through:

  • Ongoing revenue from up to 500 additional student places (15% of them postgraduates) recruited over the next five years
  • Government funding specific to the academic programmes associated with the Thornton-based site
  • Rental income from businesses occupying workshops and offices and using laboratory facilities
  • Consultancy fees from research and knowledge transfer projects