So, with it being around 15 years since Hethel Engineering Centre first opened it’s doors to what will become some of the region’s most innovative and exciting engineering companies, we thought it would be the perfect time to reflect and share with everyone where we’ve come from, where we’re currently at, and what the future holds for Hethel Innovation as a whole!

The Past

So where did it all begin for Hethel?

Hethel Engineering Centre (HEC) opened in 2006 with support from the East of England Development Agency, Lotus and Norfolk County and South Norfolk councils. Since then, due to high demand it has been expanded twice, to provide further office and workshop space for the most exciting manufacturing and engineering businesses in the region!

Hethel Innovation Ltd. launched in 2012, with the vision of becoming East Anglia’s leading provider of innovation support. Adding to our incubation offering, 2012 saw the introduction of our first business support programme – made possible by European Grant Funding – which led to the growth of the Hethel team and take our offering beyond the doors of HEC, and to the wider Norfolk and Suffolk region.

We’ve since ran two other funded business support projects (Innovation New Anglia and Breakthrough) that saw us engage with thousands of companies in East Anglia – from people that just had an idea they wanted to explore, to well-established business stalwarts of the region.

As well as this, in 2015 we took over management of the former RAF Coltishall site in North Norfolk – now known as Scottow Enterprise Park – and run the site on behalf of Norfolk County Council. Since our involvement with the site we’ve seen occupancy rise to over 100 businesses, ranging from rocket manufacturers to film studios!

Scottow Enterprise Park - North Norfolk's largest business park

The Present

Fast-forward to the present day and we now have a dedicated and varied team of over 20 people, who are spread across our current business incubation sites, Hethel Engineering Centre and Scottow Enterprise Park.

Our Business Development team are now able to offer a much wider variety of support for businesses, including mentorship, product design sprints, and agile interventions.

And despite the difficult year everyone has had, our business community across Hethel and Scottow are as big as they’ve ever been!

The Future

OK, so where are we headed?

We’ve got big plans for the next few years, and ultimately want to expand the support we offer to businesses, both in the region, and beyond!

A key goal of ours for the near future is to further develop our Hethel Engineering Centre site, providing more space for businesses that are growing and bringing more high-skilled jobs to the region.

We’re also going to be involved with the upcoming Broadland Food Innovation Centre which is set to open in 2022, where we will be managing the tailored innovation support programme in the project.

Broadland Food Innovation Centre build launch. Photo credit ©Simon Finlay Photography.

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