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Colocation and Co-Innovation: Driving Growth for Large Corporations and SMEs

AP Glasshouse

Deb Hetherington, Head of Innovation at Bruntwood SciTech, shares the benefits of bringing organisations together by colocating in innovation clusters.

An essential part of how we support the growth of science and tech businesses is ensuring our customers have access to the specialist business support they need which is tailored to the type and size of business.

Our Head of Innovation Deb Hetherington is responsible for designing and delivering support to the startup, scaleup and large corporations in our network across the UK and providing them with a roadmap for innovation and growth.

In this article, Deb shares the benefits of bringing organisations together by colocating in innovation clusters in innovation districts and how our network is primed to facilitate the growth of some of the industry’s most forward-thinking tech and life sciences businesses.

The benefits of colocating for large corporations

You’ll find a range of office and lab space across our sites that allow like-minded businesses to colocate in clusters, enabling organisations of all sizes to network, collaborate and share valuable insights. Large businesses in particular benefit from this purpose-built ecosystem, enabling them to innovate faster by having direct introductions made to small, pioneering startups and scaleups. There’s also opportunities to establish peer-to-peer groups to meet up and discuss any barriers and learn from others. This fosters a more dynamic environment which in turn supports employers attracting more young, diverse talent; and it enables open innovation.

We know that being part of a community is about more than driving financial success and just having like-minded businesses around you. We’ve seen first-hand how science and tech businesses thrive within the communities around them and from having opportunities to enjoy shared experiences through the amenities and facilities available to them. Take Circle Square for example, located in Manchester’s innovation district, the Oxford Road Corridor. It’s home to a growing community of tech startups in a dedicated Tech Incubator, scaleups and global corporations, such as streaming giant Roku, leading energy supplier Octopus Energy and KnownOrigin, one the world's first, and largest, NFT Marketplaces. Within the same campus you have the TRIB3 fitness studio, HelloOriental pan-Asian underground food hall, and award-winning independent food, drink and retail pop-up space Hatch.

The benefits of colocating for startups and SMEs

At Alderley Park you’ll find a community of over 250 science businesses paving the way in drug discovery, diagnostics, oncology and infectious diseases, amongst others. The Mereside development here is home to global leaders in life sciences including AstraZeneca and Sai Life Sciences, all co-locating with a number of exciting startups across a range of specialisms. This enables these early-stage founders to connect with these business leaders to discover further opportunity for growth and we’ve seen a number of companies scaling exponentially in this purpose-built environment.

We’re also committed to connecting science and tech startups with larger companies and corporates and have run several programmes across our portfolio helping to enable that.

Our Serendip open innovation programme at Innovation Birmingham is a good example. We’ve built relationships with large corporations, such as National Express, Balfour Beatty, Gymshark and the NHS, and asked them to tell us their pain points or innovation challenges. From here, we actively put a call out to our network of startups to ask if they can offer a potential tech solution. We then go on a journey of six to 12 months, providing the specialist support and management needed to ensure solutions are successful, often finding that many startups get a commercial deal off the back of the programme.

Our Alderley Park Oncology Development Programme is also designed to develop and progress start-up oncology projects, enabling us to identify and progress exciting oncology innovations that have the potential to improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Its goal is to bring forward viable oncology projects much more quickly in order to significantly increase their likelihood of commercial success, and ultimately, patient benefit.

There are a number of well-known corporates and professional services companies based across our campuses that are looking to innovate. The ecosystem of startups and established businesses that we’ve built across our network means we’re best-placed to facilitate the process of co-innovation to bring benefits to both parties: the startups have the option to access finance and test their technology or the usability of their research, with the aim to potentially break into new markets, and the larger companies that may have a more complicated process infrastructure less cohesive to innovation have access to a vibrant community of disruptive, innovative thinkers.

Corporates generally find it hard to find and engage with relevant startups that can benefit their business, so getting them ready to do so is key, and supporting them with this is where we can help. Equally, we provide the wraparound services to ensure startups have everything in place, from access to potential revenue funding sources, through to PR and marketing support, and other professional services resources, facilitating co-innovation to happen.

Join our network

Our national network and community of science and tech businesses is increasing everyday, meeting room bookings are increasing, we’re continuing to facilitate a wide range of events and our spaces are filling up fast. As the leading property provider for the tech and life sciences sector, we’re continually developing and improving our campuses and are committed to delivering unrivalled purpose-built world-class office and lab space and the specialist infrastructure required to enable the growth of our customers; from startups to large organisations.

You can find more information on our locations and the spaces available here. Alternatively, contact us directly with your requirements and we’ll work with you to find the ultimate home for your business and your team.

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