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£5.5m IT Centre set to ‘incubate' high tech businesses

Posted on 11 November 2002

Paul Sykes and Yorkshire Forward invest in new facility

Start-up IT companies are to benefit from a specialist IT ‘incubator' at York Science Park, adjacent to the University of York. Highstone Estates, the property development company of Paul Sykes, Yorkshire Forward, and the University of York, are key investors in the project.

The IT Centre will stimulate the creation and survival of high growth ICT companies. It is expected to create 54 businesses employing more than 300 people by 2006.

It will provide business incubation facilities - appropriate accommodation, business support and high tech facilities - to allow companies to develop their ideas and grow quickly. Work has begun on the building, with completion expected in spring 2003.

Highstone Estates as developer will construct the 25,000 sq ft IT Centre with an investment of £4.5 million. Yorkshire Forward will invest £1,350,000 in specialist IT facilities. The facility will be managed and developed by the Innovation Centre and tenants will have easy access to the University's research resources.

Businesses eligible to become tenants will include web and software designers and developers, telecommunications and multi-media companies and others. It is expected that future tenants will include University spin-off companies.

Related companies offering support services such as project management, financial services, patenting, and legal advice may also seek space. Once established, businesses are expected to move into independent premises and release space for other IT start-ups.

Incubators provide the services and support needed by new businesses to allow them to concentrate on running their operation and doing what they are good at: they provide a combination of managed workspace, including specialist facilities and equipment. Costs of services are shared between the tenants.

The IT Centre joins the Innovation Centre and the Biocentre on York Science Park in providing 100,000 sq ft of incubation space for start-up companies.

The IT Centre will have leading-edge facilities - broadband internet access, internet hosting, a secure air-conditioned server room, flood wiring, video conferencing, technical assistance and business support services including meeting rooms, reception, and secretarial services.

Yorkshire Forward's investment underpins the agency's policy of investing in the digital industries cluster.

Jim Farmery, Digital Cluster Manager said: "The York IT Centre is one of our key property projects, providing the correct accommodation for these high growth start-ups. It has the added benefit of capturing the university spin outs we are keen to encourage in our region."

Professor Tony Robards, Chairman of York Science Park, added: "The University of York has an unrivalled reputation for research, and a proud record in encouraging bright people with bright ideas. We know that innovators and entrepreneurs value the opportunity to work alongside and collaborate with us, and the Science Park embodies our belief in new, forward-looking industries."

Paul Sykes concluded: "The dot com bubble may have burst, but IT, technical innovation and internet developments are here to stay. If Britain is to retain a lead in the new global world we face, we must nurture the high-tech businesses of the future. Today's digital industries are as exciting and as momentous as the Industrial Revolution was in its day."

Notes to editors:

  • York Science Park, first opened in 1991, currently includes Smith & Nephew, Genesis, and three single-company buildings, as well as the three ‘incubator' buildings. Two areas are still to be developed on the 21-acre site.
  • Yorkshire Forward invested £2 million in the Biocentre in 2001, seeing it as a catalyst for business growth in the bioscience community. The Biocentre offers dedicated laboratory facilities for emerging biotechnology businesses. York and the surrounding region is a recognised Bioscience Cluster with over 3,000 life scientists.
  • The University's investment in the IT Centre comes via York Science Park (Innovation Centre) Ltd, of which the University is the majority share holder.
  • The IT Centre will form a crucial part of Science City York's e-business developments. Science City York is a public/private initiative creating jobs in science in York and the surrounding area.
  • Yorkshire Forward's definition of digital industries includes electronics, telecoms, multi-media design, printing and printed packaging, and the creative, media and cultural industries.

Contact details

David Garner
Senior Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322153