The vision is for Plymouth, which is among the country’s top ten locations for Superfast Broadband coverage, to compete nationally and internationally as a centre for high-tech businesses.
Planned to open in 2017, the £7 million 27,000 square foot development will provide high quality office space for up to 16 IT and digital businesses. With the best ICT infrastructure in the city, the Park aims to attract growing businesses from the South West as well as enticing firms to relocate to Plymouth.
Offering offices for businesses with 15 to 20 employees, it will provide much-needed space for Plymouth Science Park companies that outgrow their existing premises. It will also create new career opportunities for Plymouth University’s growing number of IT graduates, retaining talent in the city.
With a focus on digital innovation, development and capability, the IT Hub seeks to be a striking building announcing the entrance to the Park. It will deliver sector-leading superfast broadband connectivity, network resilience and access to Plymouth Science Park’s Level 3 Data Centre.
With building work due to start in autumn 2015, the project team is now seeking design and build proposals from key contractors who are keen to deliver a high profile part of the Park’s facilities.
Plymouth Science Park is a joint venture between Plymouth University and Plymouth City Council and is part of the Growth Acceleration and Investment Network (GAIN). It has supported more than 200 businesses since it opened nearly 20 years ago and is now home to a community of over 70 businesses employing more than 800 people.
Simon Chamberlain, Chair of the Science Park Board, said: “This new development directly responds to Plymouth’s need for high quality office space for growing IT firms. It will enable us to better support Plymouth Science Park’s community of ambitious and innovative digital creative businesses, by giving them the option of bigger office space. As well as creating new opportunities for local businesses, it will also help attract companies to the region, boosting Plymouth’s reputation for innovation and enterprise.”
Plymouth City Council leader and Heart of the South West LEP board member Tudor Evans said: “Over the last few months, the partners have been putting the finance together but now we are beginning to get a real feel for how a bigger and even better Plymouth Science Park might look and it’s really exciting stuff.
“This is the biggest science park in the South of England and it needs to keep growing to make sure that it helps Plymouth continue to punch above its weight.
“The Park is already known as a place of innovation and where ideas are shared and nurtured – if we want these companies to continue to thrive here, we need to provide the facilities and the space for them to grow.”
Interim Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Plymouth University, Professor David Coslett said: “When the University and Council founded the science park, the mission was simple yet ambitious – to support the growth of the region’s economy. Twenty years on, Plymouth Science Park is the largest, and one of the most successful in the South of England. As an anchor institution in the South West region, our commitment to this founding mission is as strong as ever.
“Over the years, Plymouth Science Park has also become home to a number of University spin-out companies and provides many of our graduates with enhanced career opportunities. So this latest development will serve to further boost the options for graduates who want to stay in Plymouth and launch their careers in the IT and digital creative sector.”
Heart of the South West LEP Chairman, Steve Hindley said: “I am delighted to see the first stages of this exciting project taking shape. Plymouth Science Park is one of the Heart of the South West’s successes that secured funding in the first tranche of the Growth Deal which was signed in October; so its strength as a robust project that will generate jobs and growth clearly appealed to decision makers at Westminster.”
The development is being funded by the partners with funding from the first round of the Growth Deal made by Government to the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership.