The “flexibility” of the Culham Innovation Centre provides the perfect start for rapidly growing science and technology firms to flourish, according to the innovative businesses that call it home.

Providing specialist workspace and support for the creators of Oxfordshire’s hottest new developments in the science and technology sector, the Culham Innovation Centre has gone from strength to strength since it opened 19 years ago.

Located within the world-class Culham Science Centre all tenants have access to the amenities it has to offer, including the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE), the UK’s national laboratory for fusion research. The technology used by CCFE requires temperatures approximately six times hotter than the sun’s core (100 million Kelvin), making it quite literally the hottest hub on earth.

Assistant Centre Manager, Karen Cooper, who has been employed at the centre since it opened 19 years ago, said: “My first day was the open day on February 12, 2001. Back then there were just offices and we had all kinds of businesses working here.

“Over time we have re-branded and turned some of the larger offices into laboratories. In a bid to satisfy demand we switched to operate a gateway policy and engaging setting for science and technology start-ups, many of whom have been here since the beginning, starting with two members of staff and flourishing until they outgrow us.”

A weekly networking breakfast provides the perfect opportunity for businesses to learn from each other while the centre’s facilities, which include offices, meeting rooms and laboratories, offer flexible space for a diverse selection of growing companies.

Dr Harry Lamble, Chief Executive Officer of Sense Biodetection Limited, a molecular diagnostics company, has recently expanded to take on lab space.

He said: “The Culham Innovation Centre is a highly flexible option for rapidly growing small companies. We’ve been here two years, initially attracted by the centre’s flexible expansion space, we began with an office for two people and have expanded initially into an additional office used as a meeting room and now we have taken on a suite with one additional office and three laboratories.

“One major benefit has been the central services. The utilities and high speed internet has been valuable to us and removed a lot of hassle, this allows small companies, like us, to expand more quickly.”

Ray Potgeiter, Director of PlasmatreatUK, an environmentally friendly open-air plasma technology company, said: “The community in the centre is engaging and we all chat about our businesses and learn from one another. There is a very friendly atmosphere and it has been great for providing us with lab space and everything we require, including a bright, fresh office which is based opposite our lab.”

Centre Director, Shelley Furey, said: “Being conveniently located within the Culham Science Centre in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, gives us access to the brightest minds at a world-class science centre. Our connections are able to provide the expertise young businesses need to turn ideas or discovery into a commercial success – linking them to unique and technical skills, specialist equipment, and funding.”

Managed by Oxford Innovation, the Culham Innovation Centre provides a base to 28 growing businesses. Located at the Culham Science Centre, Abingdon Road, it boasts 31 self-contained offices ranging from 105 sq ft to 991 sq ft as well as four laboratories, meeting and conference facilities, networking opportunities and a manned reception.

Located within a 10-minute walk of the train station, the Culham Innovation Centre also provides free parking, 24-hour access and security and on-campus events.