Oxford set to create new Innovation Centre on £30 million Science Centre site
Science Oxford has announced today that it is creating a new innovation centre to support entrepreneurs and start-up companies to be managed by Oxford Innovation. Due to open in March, the 25,000 sq ft innovation centre is part of a site in the heart of the city of Oxford that will incorporate a £30 million science centre to be designed by internationally renowned architects, Foster + Partners.
Science Oxford has recently purchased Macclesfield House, a former county council building on a site in central Oxford adjacent to the Oxford Castle development, where it plans to construct a world-class cultural centre for science and enterprise that will attract over 100,000 visitors per year. The aim is to open the state of the art facility by 2015 and a pledge of £10 million has already been made to the fundraising campaign.
Pending development of the science centre, the Macclesfield House building will be re-branded as ‘Oxford Centre for Innovation’ and provide offices and business support for up to 30 small and growing companies.
Science Oxford has appointed Oxford Innovation, a leading operator of business and innovation centres, to manage the new innovation centre. Oxford Innovation has an impressive track record in supporting the growth of technology companies. The company already manages 14 other centres from Portsmouth to Yorkshire used by over 400 companies and its business support services include access to its business angel investment networks as well as mentoring and business planning advice.
Oxford Innovation’s portfolio will expand further in the next month with the addition of three more centres in another region, meaning that the company will have realised a 41% growth rate from property management activity in the past 12 months.
Science Oxford is the public face of The Oxford Trust, a charity established by Sir Martin and Lady (Audrey) Wood, co-founders of global engineering firm Oxford Instruments plc, the first spin-out company from Oxford University.
The multi-million pound science centre is the latest initiative from Science Oxford, a pioneer in innovative projects to promote science and technology that included the creation of Europe’s first innovation centre in 1985. Current activities include a small hands-on science centre, inspirational science education programmes and schemes connecting local science businesses to the wider community.
Envisaged as a unique world-class facility to showcase cutting edge science and technology, particularly from the thriving Oxfordshire ecosystem, the science centre will host a suite of interactive galleries and include a digital planetarium together with a public plaza, café and shop.
Dr Ian Griffin, chief executive of Science Oxford, said: “Our plan is to give Oxford a public face for science and enterprise and to create a major tourist destination. The science centre will showcase inspiring discoveries and inventions that will bring the excitement of science to young and old alike.
“Innovative, early stage companies are more crucial than ever to our economy and at Oxford Centre for Innovation, they will benefit from a supportive environment with access to the funding and advice they need to help them to grow.”
Chris Allington, managing director of Oxford Innovation’s business and innovation centres division, said: “We are delighted to have been appointed to manage Oxford Centre for Innovation as part of this exciting initiative in the heart of Oxford’s liveliest quarter. Our aim is for this prestigious innovation centre to become a focal point for innovation and enterprise in the city and a generator of local employment. There has been strong interest in the range of offices and workspace we can offer and several companies are scheduled to move in during March and April.”
With the addition of Oxford Centre for Innovation, Oxford Innovation manages 15 business and innovation centres in Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Greater London, Hampshire, Northamptonshire and Yorkshire. That total will increase to 18 centres by April as three more centres in another region are opened. The company will have nearly 340,000 square feet of prime office premises with over 500 occupier companies under management.
Mr Allington explained this expansion during a period of downturn for the property industry: “Oxford Innovation offers a unique combination of flexible property solutions and advisory services, which appeals to a range of occupiers from innovative start-ups to growing companies who all wish to be part of a community of entrepreneurs.
“In the past 12 months our property portfolio by area under management has grown by 41%. We expect this growth to continue on a sustainable basis as we convert a strong pipeline of leads into more contracts to manage centres on behalf of private sector clients, such as property developers, pension funds and trusts, and public sector organisations including councils and local authorities.”
Photo: Ian Griffin (chief executive, Science Oxford) hands the keys for Oxford Centre for Innovation to Margaret Hewitt (centre manager). Watching are L-R: Chris Allington (MD, Oxford Innovation – Business and Innovation Centres); Malcolm Hay (head of finance and operations, Science Oxford); Sir Martin Wood and Lady Audrey Wood (co-founders, Science Oxford).