Birmingham Science Park leads on Smart Cities agenda with installation of 2Gbit/s broadband

In a move to enhance Birmingham’s Smart City credentials, Birmingham Science Park Aston is investing in infrastructure to increase its broadband connectivity 10-fold, from 200Mbit/s to 2Gbit/s.

The 2Gbit/s capacity will enable each Science Park tenant to have a dedicated, resilient broadband connection of up to 100Mbit/s. Such speeds enable a two hour, full HD film to download in less than five minutes, and YouTube clips and websites to load instantly. The Birmingham City Council-owned tech-focused Science Park has made the infrastructure investment as a result of a 70 per cent increase in demand for higher broadband speeds by tenants during the past six months.

Birmingham Science Park’s flagship Faraday Wharf building is now over 90 per cent occupied. Over 20 per cent of the 54 tenants are digital gaming studios. A similar percentage specialise in mobile app development, while other tenants provide link data, computer programming and search engine services.

The 2Gbit/s diverse internet transit is being installed in advance of construction work getting underway later this year on the first building within the £35m Digital Plaza development, which is located at the gateway of the 14-acre Science Park. The circa £8m iCentrumTM building will include a ground-breaking software development playground and a 10,000 sq ft tech incubation facility.

Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council and Chairman of Birmingham Science Park said: “I am delighted to be able to announce this investment in Birmingham’s technology infrastructure at the start of the MIPIM international property conference being held in Cannes, France this week.

“Team Birmingham must capture the attention of the world’s property and investment industry and this announcement demonstrates our commitment to become a leading Smart City. Installing a 2Gbit/s broadband connection at Birmingham Science Park will enable the continued growth of the thriving tech community based there. It is also setting in place vital infrastructure provision for the Park’s £35m Digital Plaza development, which is one of 26 sites within our Enterprise Zone.”

Birmingham Science Park’s 2Gbit/s broadband service is being powered by WarwickNet; a specialist business and science park Internet Service Provider. WarwickNet will install two 1Gbit/s lines diversely routed between London and Manchester, ensuring a resilient connection can be provided at all times; a vital necessity for tech businesses. Birmingham Science Park will be the only business location in central Birmingham to offer two separate 1Gbit/s pipes for tenants’ use.

Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO of Birmingham Science Park, said: “The vital ingredients of a successful tech hub are a thriving community, a comprehensive business support structure and connectivity. Increasing our broadband capacity to 2Gbit/s reinforces the message that the Science Park is the place for Greater Birmingham’s tech entrepreneurs to create inspiring, high value content.

“With this month’s events programme including presentations from UKTI, Microsoft and IBM – which are each attracting over 100 people – the Science Park is also driving the Smart City agenda from a community perspective. Two to three new tech start-ups are born at the Park’s Entrepreneurs for the Future tech incubation centre every month, many as a result of connections made at our events.”

In order to support growing tech companies, the Park has set a pricing structure for internet connectivity that provides a dedicated, resilient 100Mbit/s connection starting at £1,000 + VAT per month. Meanwhile, a 10Mbit/s connection will continue to cost tenants £35 + VAT per month.

Birmingham Science Park is harnessing the potential of the digital age and driving the city’s Knowledge Economy. Established in 1982, it is the third oldest Science Park in the UK (Herriot Watt University Research Park in Edinburgh, and Cambridge Science Park having both been founded in the 1970’s). Originally known as Aston Science Park, until Birmingham City Council became its sole owners in 2008, the Park’s primary focus has always been to nurture and harness the city’s tech scene and entrepreneurial community.

The Science Park is the gateway to the Eastside learning and knowledge quarter, with the Digital Plaza site accessed off Holt Street/Enterprise Way and A38 Aston Expressway. The Science Park’s vacant development plot has been identified within the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP’s Enterprise Zone proposals, which covers 26 sites within the Big City Plan area. The Digital Plaza will be one of the first Enterprise Zone developments to get underway and will enable its future occupiers to benefit from Business Rates relief.

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