New innovation ‘powerhouse’ for tech scale-ups formed in Nottingham

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The UK’s first dedicated destination for scaleup businesses is partnering with the University of Nottingham in a move it says will link the city’s next generation of tech firms to expertise which can help them innovate and grow.

Scale Space, which hosts an increasing number of tech and life science scaleups at its Nottingham and London bases, has agreed a partnership with the university which will see them use their combined expertise in digital innovation and research to develop new ideas, provide advice, and be a gateway to talent for scale-up firms.

The finTech and data innovation Hub will be based at Scale Space Nottingham on Wollaton Street, where a research team from the university’s Faculty of Social Sciences will work alongside fintech and other digitally-driven scaleups to develop technology and business innovations.

Scale Space was created to provide dedicated space and support services targeted at digital scaleups – innovative tech firms which have gone beyond the start-up stage and are growing rapidly. The partnership in Nottingham follows a similar venture in London’s White City where Scale Space has partnered with Imperial College London.

Scale Space is supported by Blenheim Chalcot, the digital venture builder, which has already backed Nottingham tech success stories like TDX Group and Oakbrook Finance. Oakbrook has its headquarters at Scale Space Nottingham.

Mark Sanders, CEO of Scale Space, said: “The UK is very good at starting businesses but we know that scaling them up is much harder and one of the reasons for that is that there’s very little formal support.

“As part of Blenheim Chalcot, we have decades of experience in overcoming the challenges scaleups face, and joining those skills to the renowned research, innovation and problem-solving expertise of the University of Nottingham is key to providing high-value support.

“So what we’re creating with this partnership between Scale Space and the university is a community of people, ideas and networks designed to help transform innovative ideas into successful business propositions.”

The collaboration between Scale Space and the University of Nottingham also forms part of the university’s new programme, Digital Nottingham, which has ambitions to transform its home city through data science, technology, and innovation.

Data-driven discovery is a priority research area for the university, and the initiative with Scale Space will be led by Professor John Gathergood, associate pro-vice chancellor for research and knowledge exchange in the Faculty of Social Sciences.

He explained: “This is a really exciting partnership between a research community at the frontier of ideas and innovation and a unique scaleup partner.

“Digital Nottingham is our endeavour to transform our city; its potential; the skills and ambition of our community, and deliver growth and recovery. Through Digital Nottingham, the university will create new partnerships with business and the community that propel forwards new opportunities for growth, development and regeneration, delivering high-skill employment, and a new growth narrative for our region.

“These powerful partnerships will help us to accelerate our plans to be home to an open community of innovation and discovery, creating a place with purpose by working with the city council, business and local community.”

Besides the creation of a FinTech and Data Innovation Hub at Scale Space, the collaboration will also seek to address the skills needs of the sector, linking firms to the university’s maths, physics, computer science and business and economics graduates.

The partnership will also act as a gateway between Nottingham and London, which has the biggest tech economy in Europe, hosting joint events between Scale Space Nottingham and its sister site Scale Space White City.

Lorraine Baggs, the head of inward investment at Invest in Nottingham, said: “There is a heritage of tech expertise in Nottingham which stretches back decades and has given birth to global businesses like Experian, attracted major inward investments like Capital One, and spawned a new generation of innovative scaleup enterprises.

“Providing an environment which helps build a pipeline of scaleup tech businesses makes absolute sense for the city economy and we’re very excited to see the collaboration between market leaders like Scale Space and major institutions like the University of Nottingham.

“This is an innovation in itself, one which we believe will cement Nottingham’s reputation as a destination of choice for ambitious businesses looking for the talent, expertise and facilities which make it easier to succeed.”

Photo caption: Robert Dixon, CEO, Marketing Nottingham; professor John Gathergood, associate pro-vice chancellor, University of Nottingham; Nicolle Ndiweni, business expansion specialist at Invest in Nottingham; Jon Painter, MD of the loans business at Oakbrook Finance; Mark Sanders, CEO of Scale Space; James Blakey, chief analytics officer at Oakbrook Finance