Birmingham Science Park’s iCentrum building to become a Cisco ‘living lab’ showcase for collaborative technology

An international ‘living lab’ showcase for state-of-the-art collaborative technologies will be created by global network and communications giant Cisco at Birmingham Science Park’s iCentrumTM building. A £1 million budget has been assigned to the installations, with Cisco providing expertise and access to their next-generation technology solutions.

As the first building in the proposed £35 million Digital Plaza, the ground floor of the 30,0000 sq ft, three-storey iCentrumTM building will house a unique collection of collaboration environments, designed by the project architects and an international Cisco team of customer experience specialists. Workshops with user groups will capture insight on the types of meetings and conversations that people want to have and develop across the globe.

Cisco’s state-of-the art collaboration products include immersive TelePresence video communication, expert mentoring platforms, personalised digital screens, virtual mConcierge, remote expert, avatars, flex space and the newly unveiled StyleMe mirror. Working in conjunction with the Birmingham Science Park community, these platforms will be developed for integration into iCentrumTM.

Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO of Birmingham Science Park, said: “We have always set-out to make Birmingham Science Park’s iCentrumTM the best building of its kind across Europe and hopefully beyond. This hugely exciting partnership with Cisco will take our vision into a reality.

“iCentrumTM has been designed for the latest technology and applications that catalyse innovation. However, any building that is brand new can make claims to being the best and the cleverest, but for how long? This partnership with Cisco is a long-term commitment from a leading global technology giant to ensure Birmingham’s iCentrumTM building will continue to be furnished with the latest technological installations, beyond the first wave.

“This is a significant coup for Birmingham, as it promotes itself as a leading Smart and connected digital city. For Birmingham Science Park, such an exciting, collaborative environment will offer new opportunities and stimulation to the burgeoning community of tech entrepreneurs that we are nurturing here.”

A highly innovative funding model will enable Birmingham Science Park and its joint venture partner Thomas Vale Construction Ltd to deliver the first Digital Plaza building speculatively, ending a four year drought of no purely speculative office development in Birmingham. The iCentrumTM building, which is subject to planning permission, has an estimated construction cost of £7.5 million and will take 12 months to build.

Clive Grinyer, Head of Customer Experience for Cisco’s strategic advisory service IBSG, said: “This collaboration for the iCentrumTM project allows us to develop the use of our technology with tech entrepreneurs and businesses, and connect them to global partners and audiences. This inspirational building will provide a launch pad to develop our products and apply brand-new technologies for the first time. Birmingham Science Park’s dynamic community of young tech entrepreneurs is highly valuable to our thinking and the development of ideas, and this long-term approach will enable us to work in partnership to achieve even more going forwards.”

Birmingham 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.

The Science Park’s Entrepreneurs for the Future incubation facility, launched two and a half years ago, has already created 58 new companies, with 111 employees and directors. To extend and complement this activity, iCentrumTM may house a variety of industry-led incubators to drive new innovative businesses in the key sectors of the regional economy.

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