8th November, 2010
Devon County Council has selected the organisation which will investigate the potential for work hubs in five market and coastal towns across the county.
Transform, based at Exeter University’s Innovation Centre, will assess market demand for hubs, alongside potential business models/delivery options in the towns of Totnes, Barnstaple, Newton Abbot, Exmouth and Axminster.
Work hubs are a growing concept across the UK, providing a range of support for start up and micro enterprise. This can consist of business premises either in small scale units or renting desk space on a flexible basis, a business postal address, high-quality IT facilities, opportunities to meet and network with other like-minded businesses and access business support and training from a range of agencies.
Initial research conducted by the County Council has shown that Devon’s market and coastal towns have the right qualities to support work hubs, including high numbers of self-employed people, active business networks and the quality of life that can attract small businesses who wish to work flexibly.
Transform will work alongside four partners – Cosmic IT, PFA Research, Maze Property Solutions and Aren Grimshaw, social media consultant – to investigate whether these qualities will lead to demand for work space in the nominated towns.
Councillor Will Mumford, Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration and Strategic Planning, said: “Transform’s work is part of our wider strategy to support the local economy, which includes our investment in projects such as Skypark and the Science Park.
“The County Council is committed to promoting enterprise and developing a competitive economy. Supporting small businesses by providing access to professional workspace is an important element of this.
“We are currently looking at the feasibility of developing a network of managed work space facilities across the County, to ensure that our businesses get the facilities, help and support they need.”
Nigel Tremlett, Director of Transform, said: “We have put together a very strong local team to meet the requirements of the brief and are delighted to have been given the opportunity for them to use their skills to deliver this important contract for Devon County Council.
“We aim to build on our knowledge of the Devon economy and our close working relationship with the council to ensure that the study identifies the best managed workspace option for each market town.”
Transform and its partners will meet target groups including women entrepreneurs, home-based businesses, start-ups and those considering forming a business and local property agents. They will be using surveys, business animation events, social media and ‘jelly’ sessions – casual working events to assess demand.
Work will be carried out until January, with a final assessment outlining detailed options for delivery, being provided by March.