iCentrum recommended for approval

Waiting list grows for space at the Innovation Birmingham Campus.

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Birmingham City Council’s planning directorate has recommended the iCentrum building for approval at the next Committee meeting on 18th September 2014. The scheme will enable much-needed expansion of the Innovation Birmingham Campus, located off Holt Street, next to Aston University.

Funding is in place to ensure work can start on site within weeks, ensuring the 4,097sqm (44,000 sq ft) tech incubation facility can be open before the end of 2015. The new businesses in iCentrum will create 400 high-value skilled tech jobs, generating £25 million of GVA to the local economy per annum. The building will be the first to start on site within the Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP’s Enterprise Zone, which features 26 sites within central Birmingham.

The Innovation Birmingham Campus is wholly owned by Birmingham City Council. A commercial loan for the £7.5m construction and fit-out costs for the new building 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.

Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO of Innovation Birmingham said: “I sincerely hope Thursday 18th September will see Birmingham’s Planning Committee give the green light for iCentrum. We have a waiting list for space at the Innovation Birmingham Campus, and this new state-of-the-art incubation facility – which will be located next to our landmark Faraday Wharf building – will drive a new generation of tech business for the city and create 400 high-value skilled jobs for the local economy.

“Several years ago, a redundant industrial building that occupied the iCentrumTM plot was cleared, so we are hopeful for a very swift start to the build programme. In order to pave the way for new development activity, we have recently invested heavily in our communications infrastructure to enable future occupiers to benefit from broadband speeds of 30Gbit/s, equaling the fastest internet connection available anywhere in the UK. Everything is in place to ensure this will be the first Birmingham Enterprise Zone scheme to start on site and open for occupation.”

The top floor of iCentrum 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 sectors Serendip will support are; ICT/ Digital Gaming; Built Environment, including Low Carbon, the Green Technologies and Mobility; Digital MedTech; and Digital Media.

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 regional tech and engineering-based 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 Millennial ‘social media’ Generation, in order to create the place for Birmingham’s future entrepreneurs.

The Innovation Birmingham Campus represents the gateway to Eastside, with the iCentrum site and the rest of the two-acre Campus development zone accessed off Holt Street and Love Lane. A total of three to five new buildings are proposed in total, delivering 120,000sq ft (11,148sqm) of purpose-designed space for Birmingham’s tech community. The latter proposed future buildings are anticipated to attract larger tech companies and house additional innovation functions.

Being allocated within the Enterprise Zone will enable future occupiers of Innovation Birmingham’s development zone to benefit from Business Rates relief.

118 companies are currently based in the Campus’ thriving 46,000sq ft (4,274sqm) Faraday Wharf building, which opened in 2001. Innovation Birmingham’s tenant portfolio includes software and digital gaming specialists, mobile app developers and search engine services.