@PlymUni has welcomed 13 new companies to the Cornwall Innovation Centres despite the social and economic impact of the coronavirus lockdown.

A renewable energy research business, a nanotechnology innovator and specialists in digital marketing and outsourced IT support are among those to have moved into the centres at Pool and Tremough (Penryn), and the Health and Wellbeing Innovation Centre in Truro, since March.

The number of new customers and overall enquiries has exceeded initial forecasts made at the start of the current pandemic and reflects the need for COVID-19 secure, quality accommodation with access to business support and external funding initiatives.

Matt Harrington, the Head of Cornwall Innovation Centres, said:

 

“We are delighted to be expanding our business community. In addition to welcoming these 13 new customers over the past few months, we have developed a strong pipeline of enquiries all of which has exceeded our expectations of recovery during the pandemic. The demand from businesses looking to move into our Innovation Centres bucks the trend of what many are describing as the ‘end of the office’ and shows that there is demand for high quality, COVID-secure workspaces, which we are ideally placed to provide. The companies who have joined us over recent months include early stage and more established ventures, across a range of sectors. They all have ambitions to grow and create new, high quality jobs in Cornwall. Crucially, they share our enthusiasm for being part of a vibrant and collaborative business community that is about so much more than office space.”

 

Peter Hastings is relocating his business, {n}.bora, which provides support in IT projects, programme and portfolio management, to the Health and Wellbeing Innovation Centre. Peter set up {n}.bora three years ago after returning to his home city of Truro. He made the decision to move the business from his home into the innovation centre to accommodate its next phase of growth.

He said:

 

“With our team members and clients based worldwide, we are a truly global business. However, I also want to grow locally and tap into the talent to build the business here in Cornwall. Now that we’ve expanded to a team of five, we really need a creative space to call our own, where we can get together as a team and securely house our equipment. We wanted somewhere that would inspire us and make us feel like we’re going somewhere. The Health and Wellbeing Innovation Centre works for us because the arrangements are flexible and setting up here is so easy, in terms of connectivity and infrastructure. The biggest attraction, though, is the opportunity to connect with the other businesses based here and become part of the innovation centre community. I am absolutely confident that for the next piece of work we need to collaborate on I will be walking down the corridor and knocking on someone’s door.”

 

Jacob Wells set up Well Care Cornwall in June and has already expanded to a team of five, with further recruitment underway. He is now preparing to move the family business into Tremough Innovation Centre. Along with a growing base of individual clients, Well Care Cornwall is delivering services for Cornwall Council to provide supported lifestyle care. Originally from Truro and with a background in healthcare, Jacob was inspired to set up the venture last year when he was unable to access care himself while recovering from major surgery.

 

“I wanted to be there to help people who, like me, fell through the cracks in terms of care provision,”

 

he said.

 

“We are now expanding our team to serve a growing number of clients in mid and West Cornwall, who we offer a helping hand at home and days out. We are in the process of applying for Care Quality Commission registration so we can also offer personal care. Having an office is part of their criteria, so it was important for us to move the business out of our home. The Innovation Centre offers such a vibrant environment that you can’t get anywhere else. There’s a positive energy that inspires you as soon as you walk through the door. Having that opportunity to network and bounce ideas off other people will help us along the journey we want to take our business.”
The three innovation centres remained open throughout lockdown, with COVID-19 secure safety procedures now in place to allow companies to safely return to work in the centres.

 

The management of all three centres is delivered by the University's Cornwall Innovation team, on behalf of Cornwall Council. Cornwall Innovation has been supported by the European Regional Development Fund Convergence Programme.

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