A multi-million pound refurbishment of a former Victorian school is creating the perfect environment for the launch of exciting new businesses.
The unveiling of Teesside University’s new-look Launchpad business incubator comes as the University is positioned among the strongest universities in the country for growing skills, enterprise and entrepreneurship.
The Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), a national indicator for how well universities are supporting the economy, has assessed Teesside University as being in the top 10% of 135 English Higher Education Providers for skills, enterprise and entrepreneurship development and support (Knowledge Exchange Framework 2021).
Teesside Launchpad, housed in the historic Victoria Building, is central to the growth of an entrepreneurial culture at the University. For the past few months, it has been undergoing an extensive refit as part of the creation of a £5.6 million University Enterprise Zone on the Middlesbrough campus.
Always a creative space, it now boasts exciting new facilities, features and programmes designed to enhance start-up creation and growth.
Much more than simply a business incubator, Teesside Launchpad plays a vital part in the enterprise ecosystem of the Tees Valley, particularly among the digital industries. Working with the University’s DigitalCity and Middlesbrough Council, it provides a seamless pathway for digital businesses to grow into Middlesbrough’s Boho tech hub.
The ambition to be an engine for economic growth is key to Teesside University’s mission and is reflected in the KEF outcomes.
The national framework assesses universities’ contributions to levelling up using a range of different perspectives. Teesside University was also found to be in the top 20% of 117 English Higher Education Providers for promoting local growth and regeneration and working with business (Knowledge Exchange Framework 2021).
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Enterprise and Business Engagement) Professor Jane Turner OBE DL, said: “At Teesside University we have a track record in embedding an entrepreneurial culture amongst our students, demonstrating that entrepreneurism can be a legitimate career path.
“Plans for further growth in start-up businesses is enabled by the refurbishment of Launchpad as part of our ambitious University Enterprise Zone plans.”
– Professor Jane Turner OBE DL, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Enterprise and Business Engagement)
“Therefore, we are delighted that the KEF has recognised our strengths in this area.
“Plans for further growth in start-up businesses is enabled by the refurbishment of Launchpad as part of our ambitious University Enterprise Zone plans and demonstrates that we are determined to build upon our success and help create more exciting and innovative businesses which further boost economic prosperity for our region.”
The refurbishment of Teesside Launchpad has retained and restored many of the key historical features of the building, including its high ceilings and original Victorian tiling and parquet flooring, while creating:
- A new co-working space, known as the Assembly Hall, which allows for hot-desking and remote working for up to 32 individuals at any time.
- Micro-factories which provide construction and manufacturing space for five companies; one of which has already been taken up by a social enterprise bakery.
- An Indie Games Accelerator with space for six games company start-ups.
- Office space for a further 12 businesses.
With new businesses now beginning to move in, the plan is to help more of them replicate the success of former tenants who are now key players in the economy. These include some of the North East’s most exciting and innovative businesses, such as Animmersion, Coatsink and SockMonkey Studios.
Teesside University’s Head of Enterprise Steve Dougan, said: “Teesside Launchpad is more than just a business incubator.
“We’ve put a lot of effort into developing a space with a distinctive feel to bring together lots of different types of businesses.
“Our start-ups are brimming with energy and innovation, and we can help them make connections to the people and ideas that can help them succeed.
“We want to create an environment for serendipitous meeting which can lead to new opportunities and exciting collaborations for our companies.”