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Nikos and Jo Churchill, Windsor Patania with Nikos

A new £2 million Extended Reality (XR) lab was officially opened today at the University Professional & Development Centre at West Suffolk College based on Western Way in Bury St Edmunds.

The £2million facility has been funded by the Office for Students and the Eastern Education Group (EEG).

(Current EEG members include Abbeygate Sixth Form College, West Suffolk College , the University & Professional Development Centre based in Bury St Edmunds and One Sixth Form College in Ipswich).

4 Dr Nikos Savvas in the XR lab during the launch

Dr Nikos Savvas, CEO of the Eastern Education Group. Dr Savvas said: “The impressive space age creation will be at the forefront of education, research and development and is part of the University and Professional Development Centre, the cutting edge post-18 provision of the EEG that works hand in hand with businesses and delivers university and further education qualifications to people of all ages.”

As well as offering opportunities for students to develop their skills, the XR lab will be available for businesses to use for research, development and events.

8 Tom Lloyd Dr Nikos Savvas and Jake Mills in the XR Lab

So far, the state of the art building has already hosted a number of high-profile events with major big hitters that include EDF, the NHS, Sizewell C and Wincanton PLC.

In addition to this, the lab hosted a ‘world of work’ festival for local young people - that invited everyone from museums to BAFTA winners - and a careers event for primary schools.

Chief Executive of the Eastern Colleges Group, Dr Nikos Savvas, continued: “This is an incredibly exciting time for us as educators, for the businesses using this facility, and for the talent the businesses can recruit. We are looking to be the leading institution for extended reality education and talent development for industries across post-16 education within the UK. This ambitious project gives our students an exceptional skill set and offers businesses unique opportunities in training, talent management and collaboration."

9 JAson Holt CEO of Metaverse trying out some of the equipment in the XR Lab with Jake Mills a former student West Suffolk College student wh

The facility includes a lecture theatre with wall to wall screens, immersive sound, along with video and motion capture studios. 

The award winning UK based architectural practice WindsorPatania Architects ( built the facility. 

They used the films Men in Black and 2001: A Space Odyssey as inspiration for the design.

Owned by Ryan Windsor and Giovanni Patania, the pair spoke at the launch event.

On his involvement and the facility - Ryan Windsor - a development director and co-founder of the Windsor Patania architects said: “It’s a proud moment to be standing here as former student of WSC, I believe this XR Lab will democratise education and open up new opportunities for student and the community.

Giovanni Patania is the Architect Director at Windsor Patania. Giovanni said: “My experience as a leading architectural designer for Apple had a significant influence on the design of the XR Lab. We are extremely proud of being a part of the journey to reimagine the future of educational spaces.”

Tom Lloyd - Executive Director - Skills, Innovation and Strategic Development at Eastern Education Group said: "This state-of-the-art facility will enable us to become one of the UK's leading lights when it comes to Extended Reality education. In addition to this, we are keen to collaborate with industry as much as possible. We have already developed strong links with the business community both locally, nationally and internationally to meet emerging skill needs. These organisations include Wincanton PLC, EDF and the NHS. The XR Lab is keen to collaborate, support and partner with other businesses who can benefit greatly from the technology that the XR lab provides and enhance education for the benefit of current and future learners."

If you are a business who would like to discuss the potential of working with the Eastern Education Group and the XR Lab - email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.