The Russell Building at Rothamsted Enterprises in Harpenden, has been newly refurbished to provide much-needed office and hotdesking space for growing SMEs across agriculture, innovation and technology.

The historic red-brick building, which had lain empty since 2014, has been transformed with the support of the Lawes Agricultural Trust and Rothamsted Enterprises, and the help of a £1.7m Local Growth Fund investment from Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Herts Innovation Quarter (Herts IQ), to boost agri-tech growth in the county.

The increase in workspace capacity will enable a greater number of companies to take advantage of the tax breaks, free business support and collaboration opportunities offered.

The investment has breathed new life into the building, bringing forward modern, multi-use spaces, including 22 offices of various sizes, from 200ft2 to over 1,200ft2, a hot-desk hub for flexible working, and an open plan innovation space where entrepreneurs can meet and collaborate before prototyping their ideas and testing on-site.

JPA Workspaces, based in St Albans, Herts, has assisted with the furnishing of the expansive hot-desking hub and reception areas. Additionally, they have worked closely with Rothamsted Enterprises to furnish a show office with contemporary, height-adjustable desks, wireless charging and desktop power, to help attract and inspire prospective tenants.

Sustainability is central to the project and is reflected right through to the furnishings.  Timber-based products supplied by JPA are from sustainable sources, recyclable at end of life, and accompanied by lengthy warranties. JPA’s furniture installation was zero waste and carbon neutral, contributing to Hertfordshire’s drive for sustainable growth.

With a heavy emphasis on design for wellbeing across the entire refurbishment, the scheme provides a working illustration of versatile, future proofed office and collaboration spaces designed to enhance user experience, mental health and engagement.

Furniture packages are also available to rent, lease or purchase outright from JPA, tailored to budget, design and individual tenant requirements. JPA maintain and support all furniture items installed inclusively within their service package so that all areas can be kept operational 24/7 or as required, ensuring best long-term return on investment and value over total cost of life. 

“We are delighted to have been able to showcase the benefits of working with local partners for this project which has delivered measurable local impact and value for all parties,” says Graham Pulsford, Managing Director of JPA, “and we look forward to building our working relationship with the team at Rothamsted Enterprises, it has been a pleasure”.

“We’re delighted that this iconic building is now back in use as a hub for agritech businesses and it has been great to work with local business, JPA, who have delivered a carbon neutral, zero waste furniture installation for us,” said Nicole Sadd, CEO, Rothamsted Enterprises. “We very much look forward to welcoming lots of innovative businesses to the Rothamsted ecosystem.” 

Cherie Norris, Herts IQ Enterprise Zone Manager at Hertfordshire LEP said: “As the original birthplace of agricultural science in the UK, we’re pleased that the Russell Building will once again be home to the next generation of agri-tech and food-tech innovators. Our investment will support more businesses to join Herts IQ and take advantage of the world-class expertise available at Rothamsted Research, and we’re delighted to support their future success in Hertfordshire.”