Lancashire County Council looks to expand success of Fraser House

Tech event at Fraser House in Lancaster

Lancashire County Council (LCC) is to expand its FHundED programme which brings investors and tech start-ups together.

Describing the initial co-working space at Lancaster’s Fraser House as an “incredible success” it has led to a promotion for Innovation Ecosystem Manager Rory Southworth, who also runs the Fraser House.

Rory Southworth

FHundED links investors with Lancashire tech start-ups and scale-ups looking for investment and the council is looking to take the approach to other parts of Lancashire, including to make it part of the £6m innovation hub at Samlesbury. 

Southworth said: “When I launched FHundED, realistically Fraser House wasn’t massively known outside of Lancashire. Now I struggle to find anyone in the Tech scene in Manchester that doesn’t know about Fraser House Hub.

“Before FHundED, no one ever mentioned Lancashire when talking about the Investment scene in the North. I was attending every Northern event I could and would never hear our county mentioned. Well that’s changed! Lancashire now gets a mention alongside Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool at every investment event I’ve been to recently.

“FHundED isn’t even a year old yet. I’ve got some pretty big plans for where I want to take it, I’m in no rush, I know to build an ecosystem you need to work on all the different aspects to get the environment right, this takes time,” he said.

Maya Ellis, LCC’s Innovation Programme Lead, said: “Innovation is widely recognised as a key driver for regional economic growth. By strengthening our team in areas like marketing and evaluation, and widening Rory’s remit so he can take his FHundED and Fraser House experience to other parts of Lancashire, we can ensure we take full advantage of every opportunity which comes Lancashire’s way.

“With more capacity, we will also be able to support potential new capital developments such as the proposed £6m innovation hub at Samlesbury, alongside existing investments already in the pipeline like the National Cyber Force HQ.”

The Council has also bolstered its innovation team with two new appointments.

Tom Whiley and Claire Lambert, LCC innovation investment team

Claire Lambert, who joins from Active Lancashire, will take on the role of Marketing Project Officer.

Prior to her time at Active Lancashire, where she was Head of Engagement and Partnerships for the Business Health Matters programme, Claire spent nine years leading on marketing and events for the North West Aerospace Alliance (NWAA).

Tom Whiley, who previously worked in business development at the Lancaster-based technology consultancy Northern Reach, joins as Monitoring and Evaluation Project Officer.

They will support LCC’s delivery of the Lancashire Innovation Plan (LIP).

Described as a ‘blueprint for growth’, and developed by LCC in partnership with Lancashire Enterprise Partnership’s Innovation Board, the LIP is focused on maintaining, strengthening, and extending Lancashire’s world-class capabilities in innovation-led sectors such as aerospace, advanced manufacturing, energy and chemicals.

The Plan also outlines the need to maximise and broaden the county’s R&D offer, and exploit new opportunities in emerging markets including electech, cyber, the digital industries, health, and low carbon.

In addition, there are specific interventions designed to maximise assets like the National Cyber Force HQ, the AMRC North West, UCLan’s Engineering Innovation Centre, and Lancaster University’s Health Innovation Campus, as well as a proposal to establish a Lancashire Innovation Observatory to monitor, anticipate and evaluate new commercial opportunities.

LCC’s innovation team, which is led by Maya Ellis, has also been leading the development of a new £6m innovation hub at Samlesbury. Capitalising on the technology assets already based in the area, including AMRC North West, BAE Systems, and the incoming NCF headquarters, this would be a cross-sector facility designed to facilitate more ideation, innovation and collaboration within a range of high value, high growth industries.  

Other schemes outlined in the County’s devolution proposals include Blackburn with Darwen Council’s £6m Blackburn Technology Innovation Quarter; a dynamic business space which would help support the growth of digital and creative sectors in East Lancashire; and Blackpool Council’s £6m Low Carbon Data Demonstrator Centre, which would be located at Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone.