Hethel is a small village in Norfolk which prides itself on having one of the oldest hawthorn bushes and smallest Wildlife Trust nature reserves in the UK and potentially even the world.  But maybe more impressively, it is also the proud home to some of the most innovative, future facing businesses and pioneering minds in the UK.

Situated just 10 miles south of the city of Norwich, today Hethel is most famous for being home to Lotus Cars, one of the most recognisable luxury brands in the British automotive industry. With a rich history of designing cutting-edge road and racing vehicles, the brand has recently announced the upcoming launch of Britain’s first all-electric hypercar; the Lotus Type 130.

Lotus Cars was purchased by Chinese firm Geely in 2017 and following this new investment the company currently undergoing a period of exciting transformation at its historic Norfolk headquarters. Designs for a new customer experience centre, heritage centre and museum, which will form part of a extensive development and renovation work on the 100 acre site, a former airbase, have been revealed.

This new purpose-built customer experience centre will be located alongside the pitlane of the famous test track to create a focal point at Hethel and afford fantastic views across the entire site. Showcasing the Lotus brand and its range of vehicles, it will provide a destination for customers as they develop the specification for, and later return to take delivery of, their vehicles. With a two-storey display area, the building will include private vehicle specification salons and delivery areas, as well as preparation and
service facilities.

Strategically adjacent to the Lotus HQ and building on this existing expertise in advanced engineering and technology, Hethel Engineering Centre on Hethel Technology Park is home to some of the brightest business brains in the region, with a growing community of start-up and scale-up firms.  It is home to the New Anglia Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (NAAME), the region’s sector group for manufacturing and engineering, as well as GoBio, which is working to address key challenges and opportunities for the bioeconomy across the East of England, and Cleantech East, a sector network bringing together students, businesses and researchers to encourage innovation and knowledge transfer, facilitating the transition towards a circular economy within the East.

If you want to tap into the benefits of this thriving engineering and technology community, with the cultural, bustling city of Norwich on your doorstep then here are some organisations that might be able to help:

  • Hethel Innovation:   Based at the Hethel Engineering Centre, Hethel Innovation is dedicated to supporting the growth and success of high performance engineering and manufacturing companies and individuals throughout the region. @HethelInnovati1
  • New Anglia Growth Hub: Offers a range of business support services from hundreds of sources. The hub’s service is free and impartial and can help you access grants, finance, start-up support, international trade support and other specialist advice from single point of contact.
  • Anglia Capital Group:a group of Angel Investors who invest in start-ups and early growth-stage businesses with innovative and potentially disruptive technology at their core
  • Norfolk Chamber of Commerce: Provide networking opportunities, share knowledge, offer business services, signpost to business opportunities and inspire innovative thinking to enable companies to do better business. @norfolkchamber 
  • Invest East: a high-growth small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) business support programme for Norfolk and Suffolk, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. In first instance contact New Anglia Growth Hub and they can direct you to the right person for your needs.
  • NAAME:  NAAME (New Anglia Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering) aims to develop a network which will create opportunities and drive the growth of manufacturers and engineers through collaborative working, allowing New Anglia businesses to shape their own future. @Naame_net