Project of the Week: Three innovation centres in Cornwall for small companies to grow and collaborate
In the Cornwall region of the United Kingdom, there is a large percentage of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs). It was felt that these Cornish SMEs would benefit from centres for innovation and incubation space where businesses could grow and collaborate, leading to business success. All three Innovation Centres are operated by Plymouth University and companies using these centres are automatically a part of the University’s enterprise mission, which is working to stimulate economic growth and development through access to research and knowledge transfer.
The Pool Innovation Centre (PIC), which is situated in the regeneration area of Camborne, Pool, and Redruth, benefited from EU financing of almost £9m, and was the first to be built. It has been successful since its opening in July 2010, establishing a blueprint for the Cornwall Innovation Centre programme. Reaching 50% capacity inside six months – more than two years ahead of schedule – the Centre is now at its optimum operating level, home to 44 businesses with a combined turnover of over £12m per annum. In its first year of operation alone, PIC assisted client businesses to achieve average growth of over 40% with 45 new jobs created, and 15 others safeguarded. That job creation figure is now approaching 80.
PIC has close links to its sister innovation centre at Tremough (Tremough Innovation Centre –TIC) which opened in January 2012 and benefited from EU-financing of almost £10m. TIC has followed the same stellar trajectory as PIC, and is home to 35 clients, working specifically with the arts, media and creative and environmental and sustainability technologies.
The Health and Wellbeing Innovation Centre in Truro (HWIC), which has also benefited from EU financing of almost £ 10m, is due to open in early 2013. It will take advantage of significant potential synergies with an emerging health and wellbeing cluster located close to the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust campus.
Chris Pomfret, Chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership and Deputy Chair of the Convergence Local Management Committee, which steers the Convergence programme said: “The three Innovation Centres in Cornwall are an important building block in the economic development strategy for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. They nurture start-up and nascent businesses and provide the infrastructure needed for Cornish businesses to research, develop and collaborate together. With the ERDF investment we were able to design and build the centres in a short timeframe, first PIC, then TIC and now HWIC creating an economic buzz around the businesses located in the buildings. With job creation and with PIC reaching its capacity target two years ahead of schedule it sends out the message that Cornwall is ready for business not only now, but also into the future.”