Planning application lodged for iCentrumTM; central Birmingham’s first speculative office building in four years

A planning application has been submitted for the much anticipated expansion of the Innovation Birmingham Campus. Funding is in place for the 38,000sq ft (3,350sqm) iCentrumTM building, enabling construction work to commence as soon as planning approval is granted.

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 Innovation Birmingham Campus is wholly owned by Birmingham City Council. A commercial loan for the £7.5m construction and fit-out costs has been secured from the Council. As a result of an OJEU tender process, iCentrum will be delivered by Stourport-on-Severn headquartered Thomas Vale Construction Ltd, which is part of one of the world’s leading construction groups, Bouygues Construction.

Sir Albert Bore, Leader, Birmingham City Council said: “I am delighted with the progress that Innovation Birmingham has made in developing its concept for iCentrumTM,. This scheme will be central Birmingham’s first speculative development since the completion of The Cube in 2010 and it signifies new market confidence and adds demonstrable substance to the recent focus on Birmingham as a ‘tech city’.”

Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO of Innovation Birmingham said: “We have been actively promoting the proposals for the iCentrumTM building for the best part of four years, so to now have funding secured and a planning application lodged is a significant milestone. It may only be a 38,000 sq ft building, but it will have an international reach from the day it opens.

“The top floor will feature a range of self-contained, highly flexible office suites for growing entrepreneurial tech companies. The first floor will be home to our new Serendip incubator, which will deliver a rich blend of disruptive innovation across four key sectors in a truly smart city.  The ground floor and mezzanine level will be the place to meet, be innovative, do business, and launch a new tech start-up in Birmingham. It will be a magnet for physical and virtual communication; the lighthouse for Birmingham’s Smart City Agenda.”

The Innovation Birmingham Campus represents the gateway to Eastside, with the iCentrumTM site and the rest of the two-acre Campus development zone accessed off Holt Street and Love Lane. The vacant brownfield plot is one of 26 sites covered by Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP’s Enterprise Zone. It 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 previously developed site also benefits from a Local Development Order, which is anticipated to accelerate the planning process for the three-storey state-of-the-art tech incubation facility.

The Serendip incubator will provide a creative environment that will promote cross-sector serendipity and drive new innovative enterprise, relevant to a city of the future. The key sectors it will support are; ICT/ Digital Gaming; Built Environment/including Low Carbon and the Green Technologies; Digital MedTech; and Digital Media.

In addition to flexible office space, a wider membership offering will be provided at iCentrumTM. This will be open to regional tech and engineering-based SMEs and corporates, professional service providers, as we as 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 Millennial Generation; creating the place for Birmingham’s future entrepreneurs.

In advance of construction work getting underway, a 30Gbit/s diverse internet transit has been installed across the Innovation Birmingham Campus. The significant broadband investment is a reflection of the needs of the high-tech tenant portfolio, which includes software and digital gaming specialists, mobile app developers and search engine services.  118 companies are currently based in the Campus’ thriving 46,000sq ft (4,274sqm) Faraday Wharf building, which opened in 2001.

A total of three to five new buildings are proposed for the Campus’ two-acre development zone, delivering 120,000sq ft (11,148sqm) of new space for Birmingham’s tech community. The proposed future buildings are designed to attract larger tech companies and house additional innovation functions.

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