Tech­nol­ogy cam­pus to be sold by city coun­cil Prop­erty group in deal on sci­ence park which backs start-ups

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Tam­lyn Jones Busi­ness Cor­re­spon­dent

ATAXPAYER-owned sci­ence park which sup­ports star­tups and grow­ing tech and dig­i­tal com­pa­nies is to be bought by pri­vate prop­erty group Brunt­wood.

In­no­va­tion Birm­ing­ham, which sits next to As­ton Univer­sity, is cur­rently owned by Birm­ing­ham City Coun­cil.

The cam­pus com­prises three build­ings – Fara­day Wharf, iCen­trum and the Univer­si­ties Cen­tre – and runs pro­grammes such as En­trepreneurs for the Fu­ture and Serendip Smart City In­cu­ba­tor.

In­no­va­tion Birm­ing­ham has sup­ported more than 260 busi­nesses, cre­ated more than 500 jobs and raised more than £18 mil­lion in equity fi­nance since 2009.

The deal, which is rec­om­mended by Birm­ing­ham City Coun­cil’s cab­i­net but is still be­ing fi­nalised, was an­nounced this week at MIPIM, the an­nual in­ter­na­tional prop­erty con­fer­ence in France.

The value of the deal has not been dis­closed and it is un­clear how the city coun­cil is plan­ning to use the funds gen­er­ated by the sale.

This deal is the lat­est sell off by the author­ity which off-loaded the NEC Group for £307 mil­lion in 2015 LDC, the pri­vate equity arm Lloyds Bank­ing Group.

Birm­ing­ham City Coun­cil leader Coun­cil­lor Ian Ward said: “This po­ten­tial in­vest­ment in In­no­va­tion Birm­ing­ham is cru­cial for the con­tin­u­ing suc­cess of the re­gion’s tech and dig­i­tal busi­nesses.

“I am con­fi­dent that, when fi­nalised, it will gen­er­ate huge ben­e­fits for the city’s thriv­ing and di­verse dig­i­tal sec­tor, help­ing to create hun- to of dreds of jobs, build busi­nesses and drive growth in the city re­gion as in­no­va­tive tech firms are given rel­e­vant sup­port to re­alise their growth po­ten­tial.

“Part­ner­ships be­tween academia and busi­ness are es­sen­tial for the growth of any city or re­gion and stu­dents, early stage en­trepreneurs and in­no­va­tors need a place, of­ten close to seats of learn­ing, to in­cu­bate and col­lab­o­rate.”

In­no­va­tion Birm­ing­ham’s chief ex­ec­u­tive David Hard­man will con­tinue in the post once the deal is com­pleted.

He said: “In­no­va­tion Birm­ing­ham has moved a long way in the last nine years but we have reached a point where we need to scale.

“We have three build­ings, these build­ings are full, we have more than 140 busi­nesses, we have a thriv­ing com­mu­nity of peo­ple who visit here but, if we are re­ally go­ing to make a dif­fer­ence to the Birm­ing­ham econ­omy, we have to scale and to do that we need ex­ter­nal in­vest­ment.”

Fam­ily-owned Brunt­wood al­ready owns sci­ence parks and in­cu­ba­tion hubs in the North West and Leeds and runs sev­eral of­fice build­ings in Birm­ing­ham city cen­tre in­clud­ing Mclaren in Pri­ory Queensway and Cornerblock in Corn­well Street.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Chris Oglesby added: “Our up­com­ing ac­qui­si­tion of In­no­va­tion Birm­ing­ham forms a key strate­gic com­po­nent of our wider sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy busi­ness and en­ables us to share knowl­edge and ex­per­tise across these sec­tors.

“We un­der­stand the im­por­tance of en­gag­ing with key part­ners, ac­knowl­edg­ing that what we can do to­gether would be so much greater than we could ever hope to do on our own.”


From left: Jes­sica Bowles, di­rec­tor of strat­egy for Brunt­wood; David Hard­man, chief ex­ec­u­tive of In­no­va­tion Birm­ing­ham; West Mid­lands Mayor Andy Street; Chris Oglesby, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Brunt­wood, and Coun­cil­lor Ian Ward, leader of Birm­ing­ham City Coun­cil at the In­no­va­tion cam­pus

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