Aston Science Park
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Birmingham Science Park Aston, formerly known as Aston Science Park, is a science park located in Birmingham City Centre, United Kingdom. It is located adjacent to Aston University and the Eastside area.
- 1 Description
- 2 Two campuses
- 3 West Midlands Regional Innovation Centre
- 4 Cisco’s National Virtual Incubator
- 5 LAUNCH
- 6 £35 million development zone
- 7 iCentrumTM
- 8 History
- 9 Access
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 Further reading
Birmingham Science Park Aston (BSPA) was founded in 1982 and as such is the UK’s third oldest science park. Located in its urban setting within central Birmingham, it offers 250,000 sq ft of accommodation over 14 acres.
BSPA is wholly owned by Birmingham City Council. To give the Park a new dimension, provide clarity and pave the way for a £35 million development zone, it is now presented as two campuses; the Science & Technology Campus and the Innovation Birmingham Campus.
The Science & Technology Campus
The Science & Technology Campus encompasses a range of multi-occupied and headquarters style single occupancy buildings owned by Birmingham City Council and serviced by the Innovation Birmingham team. The Innovation Birmingham Campus is working in partnership with a wide range of stakeholders to help shape the Smart Cities agenda and drive innovation-led regeneration across Greater Birmingham. Faraday Wharf  - the flagship building on the campus - incorporates 70 office suites specifically designed for growing technology businesses.
The Innovation Birmingham Campus
The Innovation Birmingham team is actively looking to work with and bring together the public sector and private sector, creating interfaces for people with ideas, people with technologies, people with expertise and experience, and people with money. It is a one-stop-shop for innovators, entrepreneurs and investors looking to develop or fund tech start-ups  with high growth potential.
The Innovation Birmingham strategy
The Innovation Birmingham strategy is focused on a service offering for founders of new technology ventures, as well as more established tech businesses. The campus facilities include the Entrepreneurs for the Future (e4f) multi-occupancy start-up centre with hot-desking facilities and a wide range of flexible office units (115-4,000 sq ft) within the rest of Faraday Wharf. However, the campus is far from just bricks and mortar; the team actively nurtures an interactive and supportive community within the place. The Campus strategy is about encouraging people to visit, engage with the businesses based there, and attract new tenants to join the thriving tech community. By creating a wide range of valuable opportunities, the missing aspects of a successful business puzzle can be resolved, helping innovators and tech entrepreneurs gain invaluable exposure and to succeed.
Innovation Birmingham Campus Membership
For technology companies that are a little more established, or not suitable for a structured support programme, Innovation Birmingham also offers Membership packages. Members instantly become part of the community and gain access to a range of additional services and opportunities designed to accelerate the development of their business. There are a variety of different packages to suit the flexible requirements and budget of a growing tech company.
Entrepreneurs for the Future centre (e4f)
This ERDF supported incubation centre is specifically focused on creating new innovative technology ventures. It provides a flexible, highly connected and collaborative environment to fast-track the development and growth of tech start-ups. As the companies grow, they are then able to graduate into larger premises within Faraday Wharf, or elsewhere on the Science Park. Since establishing in November 2009, e4f has supported the creation of over 100 new technology companies.
The objective of the e4f programme is to diversify the region’s economy through the incubation of innovative tech start-ups, creating new high-value jobs and so retaining more of the city’s talented graduate population. Start-ups in the e4f incubator benefit from an initial nine months free access to a dynamic co-working centre, with full ICT support and meeting facilities. This includes free access to the Ideas and Communications Suite, which houses state-of-the-art Cisco video conferencing equipment, together with other interactive technology.
In addition to free use of the facilities, e4f provides mentoring and support services - specific to tech start-ups - based on regional, national and international networks. Entrepreneurs in Residence provide personalised support to each start-up  and direct access to the most appropriate expertise and experience to drive development of the fledgling businesses. ‘Visiting expert’ sessions also help to ensure that the entrepreneurs have all they need to launch, develop and grow.
Within the first nine months of being enrolled onto e4f, the Innovation Birmingham  team and mentor base works with the new business founders to create a value proposition, assisting with the process of becoming revenue generating and/or securing investment funding. Start-ups in e4f can take advantage of well-established links with funds such as Finance Birmingham’s Tech Fund.
West Midlands Regional Innovation Centre
A new regional hub funded by Climate-KIC  – Europe’s largest public-private partnership focused on tackling climate change – was launched by Innovation Birmingham  in 2014. The West Midlands Regional Innovation Centre receives in excess of €2 million of funding per annum, spread across a number of local initiatives. Innovation Birmingham has created 10 new jobs to run the Centre.
The Centre’s main initiatives are; Pioneers into Practice – a grant-funded European exchange programme for low carbon specialists; the Low Carbon Accelerator Programme for start-up businesses; and a range of grant-funded education programmes aimed at students, professionals and organisations.
Cisco’s National Virtual Incubator
Innovation Birmingham is a founding node in this pioneering network, which connects business incubation centres and research institutions around the UK via state-of-the-art Cisco video conferencing technology.
Mentoring sessions and multi-location live events are being delivered across the NVI network, enabling initial introductions and follow up meetings to take place irrespective of geography. The high-definition quality available through Cisco’s video conferencing equipment ensures valuable ‘face time’ can be orchestrated without the need for costly and time-sapping travel.
The Innovation Birmingham team run a year-round programme of events for those working in the gaming or mobile app industries. The events are also targeted at students, graduates and anyone looking to launch a career in gaming.
Innovation Birmingham has invested in infrastructure to increase its broadband connectivity to 30Gbit/s. This ensures each tenant can have a dedicated, resilient broadband connection of up to 100Mbit/s. The super-fast broadband service is powered by WarwickNet; a specialist business and [science park] [Internet Service Provider]. WarwickNet has installed three lines separately routed from London and Manchester.
£35 million development zone
The £35 million development zone will enable significant expansion of the Innovation Birmingham Campus. The two acre plot is situated next to Faraday Wharf, at the gateway to the Eastside knowledge quarter. It is accessed off Holt Street and A38 Aston Expressway. The site is one of 26 covered by Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP’s Enterprise Zone. The collection of buildings will be among the first within the Enterprise Zone to get underway, enabling future occupiers to benefit from Business Rates relief.
Innovation Birmingham is developing the new buildings in partnership with Stourport-on-Severn headquartered Thomas Vale Construction Ltd, which is part of one of the world’s leading construction groups, Bouygues Construction. Three to five buildings are proposed in total, delivering 11,500 sq m (120,000 sq ft) of new space for Birmingham’s tech community.
The first phase of the development zone will be the delivery of the £8 million iCentrumTM  building. It will encompass 3,874 sq m (41,700 sq ft) of open work space promoting mobile working, a new Serendip incubator offering, self-contained offices, tech demonstration and event facilities and a café. The building is being developed speculatively and will be available for occupation in March 2016.
In addition to flexible office space, a wider membership offering will be provided at iCentrumTM, promoting a cross-sector innovation exchange to generate new products and services across Greater Birmingham’s enterprise community. iCentrumTM will bring together agile and smart working environments with the business incubator culture, creating a statement facility that will enable Birmingham to reach out to the world.
A new tech incubator concept will be delivered within the iCentrumTM building, called "Serendip". It will promote unique collaborations across sectors, supported by corporate mentors from: Built Environment; Internet of Things; Intelligent Mobility; and [Digital Health].
This new concept in incubation will ensure iCentrumTM  is a lighthouse, promoting and driving Birmingham’s Smart City agenda. The Serendip space will strike a balance between order and chaos, with proactive and energetic management used to catalyse interaction between start-ups, SMEs, public sector organisations and large corporates to drive delivery of innovative new products and services.
Birmingham Science Park Aston is owned by Birmingham Technology Ltd., which was jointly owned by Lloyds TSB, Birmingham City Council and Aston University, until 2008. During 2008 there was restructuring, and the science park is now wholly owned by Birmingham City Council. Aston University continue to sit on the board and provide services such as management support and equity capital to firms at the science park. The science park was opened in 1983 and was designed to overcome the reluctance of London-based firms to invest outside of South East England.
The first building to be opened was the Business and Innovation Centre, in 1983 by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The building was refurbished in 1994. Within one year, there were fifteen companies on site and ten years later, there were 80 companies on site. By 2001, there were 1,400 employees and 110 companies on site. Visitors to the site included then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1985, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent in the same year, Charles, Prince of Wales in 1988, European Commissioner Bruce Milan in 1989, Jeremy Morse in 1990, Chairman of the TSB Group Plc. Nicholas Goodison in 1992, Patricia Hewitt in 2001, Digby Jones, Frederick Crawford and former Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek.
The Science Park is near the end of the A38(M) motorway - which takes traffic from the M6 into Birmingham City Centre. It is located alongside the A4540 road, on a site adjacent to the Aston University campus and the Eastside area. The Digbeth Branch Canal runs through it.
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