ONE OF the largest concentrations of research commercialisation and business innovation in the Midlands expects to double in size over the next 10 years.
The University of Nottingham Innovation Park, launched in 2008, is currently home to more than 100 businesses employing 900 people, while the commercialisation office on the Park has guided a stream of successful spin-out companies based on University research.
Now, UNIP has revealed plans to grow significantly in the years ahead, with ambitions to create enough space to house up to 2,000 people and increase its own turnover to £5.7m.
Professor Dame Jessica Corner, Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange at the University of Nottingham, said: “An enormous amount has been achieved by UNIP during its first 10 years.
“It has become both a major concentration of commercialisation expertise and a significant contributor to the University’s wider ambitions to benefit the world around us, whether that is through research breakthroughs or creating jobs.
“We have now developed an ambitious vision for the next 10 years, one which we believe will see UNIP become a major employment site for the East Midlands.”
UNIP has been developed on part of the former Raleigh Bicycles site off Triumph Road in Lenton, alongside the Jubilee Campus. It is home to a number of striking buildings which house large-scale research into the technologies of the future, and business space which is occupied by a mix of early-stage businesses and larger enterprises – among them the global technology business Romax.
Its Ingenuity Centre provides services for student entrepreneurs and is also the headquarters of the University’s commercialisation office, which guides spin-out companies and also provides financial backing through its Nottingham Technology Ventures fund.
UNIP currently has 12,500 square metres of space under its management. Its Operations Director, Dr Mark Tock, says the plan now is to expand that to 25,000 square metres (300,000 square feet).
He said: “UNIP has a proven, well-established model, where exciting early-stage businesses and well-established ventures benefit from locating alongside a source of both exceptional talent and ideas with commercial potential.
“We are seeing consistent demand for our existing space, and we know that the unique nature of UNIP means this is likely to increase significantly in the future. Businesses who base themselves here are in world-class facilities, alongside research expertise, and on a site which is close to the city centre but only 20 minutes from the M1.
“So there is a clear logic in being part of what UNIP represents and we will take an innovative and enterprising approach to how we pursue our development plans in the future.”
Research taking place at UNIP covers fields such as geospatial technology, advanced materials, advanced manufacturing, digital healthcare, the digital economy, and research into the energies of the future.
“This is, by definition, one of the most innovative locations in the region, but it is also helping to nurture the next generation of entrepreneurial talent,” said Ryan Keyworth, the University’s Director of Research and Innovation.
“There is a real cluster emerging here that is driven by the development of knowledge. It will help us to achieve our goals of driving transformative discovery, encouraging enterprise and improving the communities which we’re part of.”
News of UNIP’s expansion plans has been welcomed by Brendan Moffett, the CEO of Marketing NG, the destination marketing and inward investment organisation for the city.
He said: “Environments which encourage innovation are massively important to the future of the city region economy, particularly those which cross the boundary between research and the commercialisation of knowledge.
“The transformation of a former industrial site into one of the biggest concentrations of research, technology and entrepreneurialism in the Midlands has been hugely impressive. It is a great symbol of the city’s evolution and we fully support its ambition to become a major employment site in the years to come.”