The University of Northampton held a Ground-breaking Ceremony on Monday 2 December to mark the start of the building work on its Innovation Centre, which is situated at the gateway to the Northampton Enterprise Zone.
Up to 55 small businesses will be accommodated in the state of the art building and will have access to support from the University’s Inspire2Enterprise service, an advisory service specifically for enterprises developing their business in a socially responsible manner. The University of Northampton has been internationally recognised as a leader in supporting Social Entrepreneurship and has recently been designated as a ‘Changemaker Campus’, a prestigious values-based award shared with only 25 other universities world-wide.
Terry Neville, Chief Operating Officer at the University of Northampton said: “The Innovation Centre will be a flagship for the Social Enterprise sector and will specialise in business support for this sector, which is rapidly expanding across the UK and globally. Encouraging enterprise and entrepreneurship is crucial to the University of Northampton and significantly enhances the experience and employability prospects we offer to our students. Occupants of the new University of Northampton Innovation Centre will also benefit from its central location and superfast broadband.”
The University is delivering the £8.5m project in partnership with West Northamptonshire Development Corporation (WNDC) with Northamptonshire-based Kier Construction appointed as the main contractor.
Peter Mawson, Chief Executive of West Northamptonshire Development Corporation (WNDC), commented: “After years of planning and preparation, we are delighted to see work start on the Innovation Centre. It is a sign of improvements to come, with a major office development planned on our neighbouring land. This is the third innovation centre that we have delivered with the University, following the popular iCon and Portfolio Centres. With its quality design and high profile location, we’re sure it will be just as successful.”
Graham Howe, Regional Managing Director of Kier construction added: “As a locally based company, we are delighted to be working alongside the University of Northampton on this exciting project, following on from our involvement with the University’s St John’s Halls of Residence. We look forward to delivering a further project of which the town can be proud.”
Councillor David Mackintosh, Leader of Northampton Borough Council, said: “Innovation centres offer businesses the best chance of surviving those early years. Many household brands are where they are today thanks to the vital start offered by such centres and this one is particularly important as it will support an industry which is still in its infancy.”
“The University of Northampton is right at the leading edge of Social Enterprise in the UK and this investment will help cement that position.”
The University of Northampton Innovation Centre, expected to open in early 2015, is one of several developments planned within the Northampton Waterside Enterprise Zone. This includes a new and improved railway station opposite the Innovation Centre, as well as a proposed £330m University of Northampton campus.