Construction work has commenced on Innovation Birmingham’s 3,874sqm (41,700 sq ft) iCentrumTM building. The speculative development project is located next to Faraday Wharf and Aston University, off Holt Street – visible from the A38M Aston Expressway.
iCentrumTM is the first phase of expansion of the Innovation Birmingham Campus, which is currently fully let. 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 has 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 new businesses in iCentrumTM will create 400 high-value skilled tech jobs, generating £25 million of GVA to the local economy per annum. The building will be one of the first to start on site within the GBSLEP’s Enterprise Zone, which features 26 sites within central Birmingham.
Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council said: “iCentrumTM will drive forward our Smart City agenda, creating hundreds of new jobs within local SME tech firms, based within the building and across the Greater Birmingham region. This dynamic building will enjoy 30Gbit/s broadband speeds – equalling the fastest internet connection available anywhere in the UK. iCentrumTM’s rich mix of entrepreneurship and collaborative activity will be a magnet for an increasingly mobile workforce; it will firmly position us on the UK’s tech map.”
Craig Tatton, Managing Director of Thomas Vale Construction said: “Thomas Vale is extremely pleased to be working with Innovation Birmingham to deliver this first class facility for the tech entrepreneurs of the region. It is important that we also deliver wider community benefits through local procurement and employment, delivering education, research and skills initiatives with local stakeholders.”
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. The building is designed to have an international reach from the day it opens. It will be a magnet for physical and virtual communication; the lighthouse for Birmingham’s Smart City Agenda.
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.
Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO of Innovation Birmingham said: “We have a waiting list for space at the Innovation Birmingham Campus, and this new state-of-the-art incubation facility will drive a new generation of tech entrepreneurs for the city. As a lighthouse – a beacon for Birmingham’s innovation-led community – it will act as a focal point for the city’s burgeoning tech scene, helping to ensure Birmingham is recognised as one of the great UK ‘Tech Cities’.”