Chancellor of the Exchequer visits the Innovation Birmingham Campus, as construction work takes shape on £45million expansion programme

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has visited the Innovation Birmingham Campus to make his first major speech since the State Opening of Parliament. He was accompanied by the Rt Hon Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

As the steel frame of the 3,874sqm (41,700 sq ft) iCentrumR building is being erected, the Chancellor announced an extension to the Birmingham Enterprise Zone that it forms part of. Located next to Innovation Birmingham’s Faraday Wharf building – visible from the A38M Aston Expressway – iCentrumR is the first of five new developments totalling £45million planned on the two-acre expansion site.

The 60 week build programme will see iCentrumTM being open for occupation in March 2016. It will be delivered by Midlands headquartered Thomas Vale Construction Ltd, a Bouygues UK company.

The circa £8million technology incubator is being funded through a commercial loan, agreed with Birmingham City Council, to cover the main construction and fit-out costs. In addition, Innovation Birmingham secured funding from the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership’s (GBSLEP) Enterprise Zone’s Site Development and Access Fund to create additional co-working space in the new building.

The Innovation Birmingham Campus is currently fully let with an extensive waiting list for space from new and growing tech businesses. As a result, iCentrumR will create 400 high-value skilled tech jobs, generating £25 million of GVA to the local economy per annum. The building was one of the first to start on site within the GBSLEP’s Enterprise Zone, which features 30 sites within central Birmingham.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said: “This One Nation government will back the working people of the Midlands at every stage of your lives.  Our plan to rebalance the whole of the UK economy involves making the Midlands an engine of growth.

“We will support its key strengths in manufacturing, science and energy. We will make major investments to improve transport connections and improve skills.  By creating jobs and allowing people to keep more of the money they earn, we will ensure the Midlands shares in a truly national recovery”

Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO of Innovation Birmingham said: “The construction of iCentrumR – as the first of five buildings planned for our £45million expansion of the Innovation Birmingham Campus – is driving forward Birmingham’s Smart City agenda. We will create hundreds of new jobs within local SME tech firms, based on this Campus and across the Greater Birmingham region.

“Significant investment has ensured tech businesses based here can already access 30Gbit/s broadband speeds – equalling the fastest internet connection available anywhere in the UK. When completed in March 2016, iCentrumR’s rich mix of entrepreneurship and collaborative activity will act as a magnet for an increasingly mobile workforce; it will firmly position Birmingham as one of the great UK ‘Tech Cities’.”

Chris Webster, GBSLEP champion for the Birmingham city centre Enterprise Zone (EZ), said: “We are really pleased that the Chancellor was able to visit the iCentrumR site on his visit to the Midlands today. This is a very exciting project at the heart of the EZ which will support the technology and digital sector, one of our target growth areas. It is an excellent demonstration of the EZ in action, with iCentrumR having benefitted from a £355,000 loan from the £275m EZ investment plan to enable the creation of co-working space. This plan, agreed by the GBSLEP and funded through borrowing by Birmingham City Council against future business rate uplift, is helping to drive growth across the EZ.

“We very much welcome today’s good news that on the back of the success of our EZ to date, the Chancellor has committed to extend the geographical area and duration of our city centre EZ. This commitment will enable us to maximise the benefits of HS2 arriving at Curzon Station by supporting the delivery of a £660m local infrastructure investment package.”

The top floor of iCentrumTM will feature a range of self-contained, highly flexible office suites for growing entrepreneurial tech companies. The first floor will be home to Innovation Birmingham’s ground-breaking ‘Serendip’ incubator, which will deliver a rich blend of disruptive innovation across four key sectors, closely aligned to the Smart City agenda.  This highly creative environment will promote cross-sector serendipity to drive new innovative enterprise, relevant to a city of the future. The key ‘smart’ sectors Serendip will support are; Built Environment; Intelligent Mobility; the Internet of Things; and Digital Health.

The ground floor and mezzanine level of iCentrumTM will be the place to meet, be innovative, do business, and launch a new tech start-up in Birmingham – an innovation marketplace.

In addition to flexible office space, a wider membership offering will be provided at iCentrumTM. This will be open to all regional SMEs and corporates, professional service providers, entrepreneurs and micro-businesses, in order to promote a cross-sector innovation exchange, generating new products and services across Greater Birmingham’s enterprise community.  The design ethos of the building is focused on ‘Generation Z’; the cohort of people born after the Millennium – the ‘social media’ Generation – in order to create the place for Birmingham’s future entrepreneurs.

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