Businesses enjoy a happy new year at thriving innovation centre

It is already proving to be an exciting New Year for companies in the Harborough district, as the town’s recently opened innovation centre continues to attract businesses, generate jobs and boost the local economy.

Fifteen companies have moved into the Harborough Innovation Centre since its launch last August, with resident entrepreneurs dealing in everything from drainage and design to prunes, property, recruitment and IT. Based at the entrance to the town’s new Airfield Business Park, the centre is home to 52 offices and eight studios and has been set up to act as a thriving hub for local businesses to launch, innovate and grow in.

Senior Centre Manager, Mick Judge, said: “In just five months we have generated a thriving community of businesses. There is a real sense of optimism and opportunity, with people enjoying their new home, getting to know their neighbours and making the most of our affordable rent, excellent facilities and business support. Several more companies are due to move in over the next couple of months and we are exceeding all our targets.”

Businesses enjoy a happy new year at thriving innovation centre
As well as the resident businesses, Harborough Innovation Centre is a ‘virtual’ home to two other companies, which will use the centre as a business address and access the centre’s hot desks, telephone answering service, meeting rooms and catering facilities as and when they need.

One of the newest businesses to move in is Dataworks IT, set up by father and son Dave and James Yeomans to provide IT support to businesses too small to have their own IT department.

“It was visiting the innovation centre for the first time that spurred us on to join forces and set up this company,” said Dave. “We were both looking for a new challenge and have complementary skills and the timing seemed perfect. Seeing the lovely building, facilities and knowing that we would be working alongside a potential 50 plus other businesses, who would also all become potential customers, sealed the deal.”

Another resident business is the European marketing office for the Californian prune industry. Esther Ritson-Elliott, European Marketing Manager, revels in the serviced office element and relocated from a nearby village to secure offices in the centre.

“Being here means I can concentrate on the business rather than on the practicalities of running an office,” she explained. “We are very busy and being here saves time and money. We no longer have to deal with the gas man or sort out phone faults. We have a professional image, great facilities, centre staff to look after the building and the company of other like minded businesses. Only being tied into a one month contract is also a huge plus.”

Other resident businesses include Intali, a commercial development and investment company, Sporting Edge, which delivers performance coaching, Broderick Projects, a specialist in Mechanical Drive Systems and accountancy firm RMLC Associates.

Harborough Innovation Centre was made possible thanks to a £200,000 investment by Harborough District Council, which in turn led to £4million of European funding through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). An estimated 180 jobs will be brought to the area by the Centre, which has been designed to achieve an ‘excellent’ rating from BREEAM, the world’s foremost environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings.

Councillor Mike Rook, Leader of Harborough District Council, commented: “It is wonderful to see the innovation centre thriving and already bringing jobs to the area. The sense of corporate community is already very impressive and we look forward to seeing the centre grow and develop throughout 2012.”

Harborough Innovation Centre is managed by Oxford Innovation, which operates a network of 20 business and innovation centres across the country, providing office and laboratory space for over 500 businesses. Occupiers benefit from flexible letting arrangements and a range of support through Oxford Innovation, which includes funding assistance through business angel investment networks, mentoring and networking events.