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Oxford Innovation appointed to manage Harborough Innovation Centre

The Market Harborough Innovation and Business Centre, which will be a hub for local businesses to launch, innovate and grow, has been officially handed over by developer William Davis Ltd to Harborough District Council. The ceremony also marked the formal appointment of Oxford Innovation to manage the Innovation Centre.

Oxford Innovation already manages a network of 19 business and innovation centres across the country, providing office and laboratory space for more than 500 businesses.

The £4.2m Centre, located at the gateway entrance to the new Airfield Business Park, is the largest single development project undertaken by Harborough District Council in recent times and is poised to make a significant impact on commerce in the town. There is already a pipeline of enquiries from prospective tenants with arrangements being made to view the building which is planned to be available for occupation during July.

The project, which is a unique partnership, will help fledgling businesses set up and prosper and will bring approximately 180 jobs to the area. Representatives from project partners: Harborough District Council; William Davis Ltd; East Midlands Development Agency (emda); European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Prospect Leicestershire were present at the launch, along with over 130 dignitaries and local business people.

The Centre, which has been designed to achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating, reflecting its important sustainability credentials, will provide 52 individual offices, eight studios and meeting rooms together with catering facilities and a business centre.

Start-up and growing businesses joining the Centre will have access to a wide range of support provided by Oxford Innovation, including funding assistance through business angel investment networks, networking events and mentoring.

Building work began in August 2010 after the project received funding to the value of £4m through the ERDF and emda’s Sub Regional Investment Programme (SRIP). Developer William Davis contributed complementary work space as part of the project to the value of £1m and Harborough District Council added £200,000 and will own the building.

Leading the official launch, Guy Higgins, managing director, William Davis acknowledged the project was a clear demonstration of the public and private sectors working together to deliver a much needed resource, he said: “The innovation and business centre represents the culmination of great efforts by the local community to bring inward investment to Market Harborough. The value of this facility to the town and surrounding area will be enormous and I am sure it will be a great success.”

Local businessman and chairman of Harboro Rubber, a major employer in the area, James Briggs was invited to cut the ceremonial ribbon signifying the official launch of the building. James was one of the original visionaries back in the 1990s who joined forces with the local authority and others to help create an environment for start up businesses.

“Here is a centre for excellence where anyone can bring a business idea and start a business with all the help and support anyone could wish for,” James said: “Truly this is a greenhouse for growth and I am thrilled to be here and to have been asked to cut the ribbon of something I and many others have dreamed of and worked on for 15 years.”

Leader of the Council, Cllr Michael Rook was also on hand to express his delight at this fantastic achievement: “For the team at HDC, the Harborough Innovation Centre has always represented a focus for the delivery of one of our top priorities – supporting local businesses – and putting in place a mechanism that ensures the local economy is vibrant and prosperous and which grows the wealth of our District in the years to come. This is a marvellous event for me to be able to take part in,” he said.

Chris Allington, managing director of Oxford Innovation’s business and innovation centres division, said: “We are delighted to have this opportunity to manage Harborough Innovation Centre and assist local innovative companies in Leicestershire to succeed and grow. Working with Harborough District Council and our other partners, our aim is to ensure that this innovation centre becomes a hub of entrepreneurial activity for the region. Since we were selected to manage the Centre a few weeks ago, the team at Oxford Innovation has been working hard to prepare the building for opening and generate interest. We are in discussion with prospective occupiers and welcome further enquiries.”

Concluding the official proceedings, prior to guests being invited to tour the new building, Diana Gilhespy, executive director of regeneration, emda commented: “This new Centre delivers a lot of what emda was set up to achieve; it addresses the lack of such space in the area; supports the development of small, innovative businesses and supports the rural economy. This was the last capital project to be awarded single programme funding from emda just over a year ago – I too am delighted to be here to celebrate its completion and the joint working that it has brought about.”

The Innovation and Business Centre forms part of William Davis’ 20-acre Airfield Business Park where already four of the six speculatively built industrial units have been sold to local businesses looking to expand, construction work on the rest of the site is underway.

Companies interested in finding out more about the Innovation Centre should contact Mick Judge, Centre Manager, tel: 01933 303000 or email:

Editors Notes
Press enquiries to: Margaret Henry, PR Director, Oxford Innovation.
Tel: +44 (0)1865 261491 Email:

Photo available on request
Harborough Innovation and Business Centre is officially handed over to local businessman James Briggs by Guy Higgins, William Davis Ltd, in the presence of Cllr Mike Rook, leader, Harborough District Council; Diana Gilhespy, emda, and Chris Allington, Oxford Innovation.

About Oxford Innovation
Oxford Innovation is a leading operator of business and innovation centres that provide office and laboratory space to companies throughout the UK. The company also provides innovation services to entrepreneurs, including business planning advice, coaching and mentoring. Oxford Innovation also manages three highly successful investment networks that link investors with entrepreneurs seeking funding from £20,000 to £2m. For more information:

Oxford Innovation is part of SQW Group. Other divisions and associated companies include SQW, a leading provider of research, analysis and advice on sustainable economic and social development solutions to the public and private sectors, and SQW China, which operates from Hong Kong providing economic and management consultancy services to China and the international market. For more information:

About the Harborough Innovation Centre project
Full planning permission was granted for the centre on March 16, 2010, by Harborough District Council’s planning committee.

Sub Regional Investment Plan (SRIP) – The HIC is one of a number of projects being delivered as the result of a unique new partnership between local authorities, businesses and other organisations across Leicester and Leicestershire that aims to drive economic growth.

Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council have formed an economic alliance that includes all the district councils. A multi area agreement has been approved by the Government, with a vision of improving standards of living for everyone in the area.

A Leadership Board has been created to make strategy and funding decisions, guided by detailed information about local economic conditions. It includes representatives from local authorities, private sector and major funding agencies emda and the Homes and Communities Agency.

A new economic development company, Prospect Leicestershire, has been launched to bring together responsibility for regeneration and inward investment.
Innovation Centre – funding breakdown
HDC - £0.2m
emda - £4.048m (via ERDF - £1.689m and SRIP - £2.359m)
Total - £4.248

WD – Additional business space to value of £1m.

About ERDF nationally
The ERDF Programme aims to strengthen economic and social cohesion in the European Union by supporting regional economic development. The ERDF objectives for England are:
• Promoting innovation and knowledge transfer
• Stimulating enterprise and supporting successful business
• Ensuring sustainable development, production and consumption
• Building sustainable communities
• Improving accessibility and connectivity (for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly only – as part of their Convergence Programme)
A Programme Monitoring Committee consisting of regional stakeholders such as RDAs, Regional Assemblies, Local Authorities, Sub-regional Partnerships, Higher Education Institutions, Trade Unions, and the private and voluntary sectors will monitor and oversee programme implementation in each region.

For more information on ERDF funding visit: or

About ERDF in the East Midlands
The East Midlands is eligible for €268.5m between 2007 and 2013, which when combined with match funding, provides a programme value of approximately €537m – a significant investment in the economic development of the region.

The East Midlands qualifies as a competitiveness and employment region under the EU’s Cohesion Policy, which aims to meet the EU Lisbon objective to become ‘the most competitive and dynamic knowledge based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social inclusion.’

East Midlands Development Agency (emda) is responsible for the programme management and delivery of the region’s 2007-13 ERDF Competitiveness Programme. From 1st July 2011, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) will take on management of ERDF in the East Midlands.
To find out more about ERDF, the region’s strategy for delivering the funds, how to apply for funding and how the programme is managed, visit

About emda
East Midlands Development Agency (emda) is one of nine regional development agencies in England, set up in 1999 to bring a regional focus to economic development. Ten years on, independent evaluation shows emda has:
• Had a significant impact on the region's economy
• Generated economic benefits that substantially outweigh its overall costs
• Put back over £9 of economic output (or GVA) into the regional economy for every £1 it spends
• Produced more than £1 billion in economic benefits per year and had a wider impact on people, places and businesses in the East Midlands that cannot be captured by figures alone.
The Government has announced that the Regional Development Agencies will be abolished by March 2012. During this transition period, emda continues to make best use of its resources to create a strong, sustainable and balanced economy in the East Midlands. For more information,

Leicestershire County Council is also supporting the HIBC project.

William Davis Ltd was founded in 1935 and remains a privately owned company in the property and construction industry. The company's activities encompass private homes, partnerships, commercial, industrial and retail properties, regeneration, land and land planning, refurbishment and civil engineering. This breadth of activity has been matched by a carefully planned growth in the company's geographical area of operation, which covers an area of approximately a 100 mile radius, from its headquarters in Loughborough, Leicestershire. For more information,

Publisher Contact Information:

Oxford Innovation
+44 (0) 1865 261491

Company profile of Oxford Innovation
Past press releases of Oxford Innovation.


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