Gloucestershire College has been awarded almost £1 million to create a flexible workspace for local businesses with purpose-built facilities designed to develop the technologies of the future.
The money, part of the £11.3 million secured from the government by Gloucestershire’s Local Enterprise Partnership (GFirst), announced last week, will contribute to a new innovation centre at the college’s Cheltenham campus, next door to GCHQ and the proposed new cyber park.
Due to open next summer, the College expects the innovation centre, where businesses and education can come together, to generate 20 new jobs per year and support up to 50 start-up businesses over a five year period.
This project will offer office and lab space, workshops and co-working facilities designed specifically for high-tech, cyber-based entrepreneurs and innovators, with access to the educational facilities available at the College.
Cyber start-ups will be encouraged to take part in projects that involve academic staff and students at the College, helping to develop Gloucestershire’s next generation of cyber talent.
Gloucestershire College has been repurposing its Cheltenham campus for three years, working with Bruton Knowles to create a commercial business model for its surplus office and teaching space. During that time, Dorian Wragg, Commercial Partner at Bruton Knowles, has secured a number of high profile tenants.
Built and opened around 15 years ago, Gloucestershire College’s Princess Elizabeth Way campus was configured to offer educational facilities that are now no longer needed, including sixth form provision which has largely returned to secondary schools across the county.
The latest investment will help reconfigure the building, which is perfectly placed to rise to Cheltenham’s cyber ambitions, next to the GCHQ building and the proposed Golden Valley Cyber Park.
The change from purely educational to business and education provision has already started. Most recently, Bamboo Technology has moved into a large modern on-site office space, joining cloud software company CloudTamers and aviation training service provider Global ATS who are also based there. environment.
Andy Bates, Vice Principal and Chief Financial Officer at Gloucestershire College, said: “This project will lead to economic growth for Gloucestershire by providing start-up businesses with the space to grow and share ideas through networking and interlinking with similar enterprises. This, in turn, will attract new business to Gloucestershire and stimulate existing businesses in the creation of jobs.”
David Owen, Chief Executive of GFirst LEP, said: “In these challenging times this is welcome news for the county’s economy. The LEP team have worked hard with partners to ensure our pipeline of creative and innovative infrastructure projects is always up to date. The list of projects that we are now able to fund focus heavily on the cyber, digital and agri-tech sectors, sectors that were identified in our Local Industrial Strategy as the top growth opportunities in the county.”
This investment is not the only innovation coming from Gloucestershire College. Its commitment to developing the future of the engineering and cyber industry led to the College being awarded Institute of Technology status with an additional £3 million of funding allocated to create a new cyber training centre. The yet to be built facilities, also to be located at its Cheltenham campus, will include computing labs, attack and defence rooms, forensic tool kits and engineering labs for students. In partnership with UWE Bristol, the new Institute of Technology centre is due to open in spring 2021.