20th anniversary at Warwick Innovation Centre

Karen Aston, centre manager at the University of Warwick Science Park’s Warwick Innovation Centre

A thriving innovation centre in Warwick is celebrating its 20th anniversary by taking its very high occupancy levels to the maximum.

The University of Warwick Science Park’s Warwick Innovation Centre has always enjoyed high occupancy, being between 85 per cent and as high as 99 per cent occupancy at times over the last 20 years.

And now its three wings have reached the elusive 100 per cent mark – but with one or two companies moving to their own premises in Warwickshire over the summer, it will free space for new start-ups to occupy the state-of-the-art offices and access a wide range of business support services.

Over the last two decades, over 150 businesses ranging from automotive to digital marketing have been tenants which has resulted in over 1,500 people working at the site in Gallows Hill.

Fifty-three per cent of companies who outgrew the centre have remained in the Coventry and Warwickshire area.

Currently, the centre is the home for 37 start-up and growing businesses who employ around 600 people – who are not all in the building at the same time due to flexible working hours – with many progressing from the centre’s Ignite scheme or its Virtual Tenancy service.

Karen Aston, who was centre manager at the Binley Innovation Centre in Coventry for ten years before taking up the same role in Warwick nearly seven years ago, said its success was due to a number of factors.

“We have never been fully 100 per cent let since we opened 20 years ago and to achieve the feat at a memorable time in our history is a remarkable achievement,” she said.

“Although we are totally full at the moment, a couple of companies who have outgrown the centre are moving on in the next few months which will enable new businesses to take their place.

“It is always sad to see a company leave but part of our appeal is that we provide flexible tenancies for businesses who are often just starting out and then as they grow, they need more room here or elsewhere.

“We have attracted start-up and growing businesses in a wide range of fields due to our flexibility, car-parking and location to the road network and since some of our offices and meeting rooms have views of Warwick Castle.

“Our links with the University of Warwick have also proved really useful to many businesses over the years whether it has been help with research or setting up internships.

“Another factor in attracting entrepreneurs is our business support services with many graduating from our Ignite scheme which assists with providing mentoring support and starter offices to accelerate their growth or our Virtual Tenancy Service which provides a business address, mail handling and telephone answering service as well as conference and meeting room facilities.

“We have also started the Business Ready programme whose advisers and mentors provide support with access to finance, accessing new markets and accessing specialist skills and knowledge which is vital to a new business.

“For the innovation centre to have reached its 20th anniversary speaks volumes for the kind of service and support we provide and I think we have proved that as well as providing first-class facilities, our advice and help is invaluable to businesses whether they are just starting or are established.”