Business booms in Pool as innovation centre celebrates 3rd anniversary

Cornwall’s first Innovation Centre is celebrating its third anniversary as recent figures show it has supported the creation of 100 new jobs as well as injecting hundreds of thousands of pounds into the local economy and neighbouring businesses.

Pool Innovation Centre (PIC) is now home to 48 companies which employ over 250 people and have reported an annual growth rate of 40 per cent – substantially above the national growth rate average of 10 per cent.

But the benefits are more widespread with other businesses in Pool, Camborne and Redruth also reporting increased trade - including the Penventon Hotel in Redruth, which has enjoyed £150,000 of extra business thanks to the centre opening.

Richard Scutt, manager of PIC, said: “It has been a fantastic three years and we are delighted and proud to see the tangible results that PIC has had, both for the businesses based here and for the wider business community as a whole.

“Cornwall needs progressive and innovative businesses, and PIC creates an inspirational and inclusive environment that helps businesses to thrive, rather than just survive.”

Pool Innovation Centre opened next to the Cornwall College campus in 2010, and further innovation centres have since opened at Tremough in Penryn in 2012 and the Health and Wellbeing Centre in Truro in 2013.

The three business acceleration centres - which were recently ranked as amongst the best in the world by UK Business Incubation (UKBI) - are home to 139 businesses overall, employing around 480 people.

Under the banner of Cornwall Innovation, the three centres are operated by Plymouth University on behalf of Cornwall Council and with the support of GAIN, the Growth, Acceleration and Investment Network which aims to boost job creation in the South West.

Bernard Curren, director of Cornwall Innovation, said: “What Pool Innovation Centre has achieved in the last three years is really fantastic and truly accelerating growth in the Cornish business community.

“Cornish business has culturally always been very innovative and entrepreneurial; what has been achieved at PIC shows what can be done if you engage these growing businesses and support them so that they can soar.”

With 48 businesses currently based at PIC it is operating at 95 per cent full, but some of the companies will be moving on soon to bigger premises, making space for new companies to move in.

Richard added: “The idea is for people to come here for up to three years but we support businesses throughout even after they leave us. So far 10 companies have moved on but we continue to stay in touch and support them.

“It’s a very inclusive, open door policy and our facilities are always available to businesses, whether they are based at PIC or not.

“We are never short of companies wanting to join us but we are very selective to ensure the businesses moving in engage fully, so for every 100 who apply only around 30 are offered office space.”

The innovation centres are much more than office space alone, with the PIC team providing an all-encompassing network of support ranging from providing first-class conference and meeting room facilities to running HR and sales training clinics.

Richard and his team also ensure companies link in to Plymouth University at every opportunity to benefit from the knowledge transfer on offer and to access research and development opportunities.

“Some of what we do isn’t quantifiable,” Richard said. “But every survey we do reports back that the businesses based here believe they wouldn’t be able to grow as quickly as they are doing without our support.”

Businesses in and around Pool are also reaping the rewards of PIC opening.

Aaron Pascoe, general manager of the Penventon Hotel in Redruth, said: “Having the Innovation Centre two miles away in Pool has been significant to us. It’s impossible to measure the overall impact but we’ve seen an increase in trade over the last three years of close to £150,000 which we know is mainly down to PIC.

“It’s fantastic to have a facility like this in the Camborne and Redruth area, and it has really lifted the esteem of the area.”

Duncan Sim, landlord of the Plume of Feathers pub in Pool, said: “Since PIC opened, it has been great for trade for us – and a real boost to the area.”

Smaller companies have benefited too. Louise Reynolds from Healthy Boxes, a delivery service of seasonal Cornish grown vegetables, said: “It has been a huge help working with PIC because a lot of my business comes through schools so in the summer months there is a dip in sales and having PIC to visit has been great.”

Claire Peterson runs Poco Rosso, a van service delivering coffee and pastries.

She said: “The PIC team has been fantastic and really accommodating. They have made it very easy for me to turn up here every morning and very inclusive; I couldn’t have run my business without them.”

Craig Sims from Massage Cornwall visits PIC to treat clients during their lunch breaks.

He said: “I’ve been working at PIC for about 12 months and the team there has been incredibly supportive to me, helping me to get new clients and helping with any business problems too. It’s led on to me working at TIC and HWIC and it’s been an incredible boost to my business.”

PIC and the other two Cornish innovation centres are supported by the Cornwall Development Company (CDC) with £29million of investment provided by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

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For more information contact: Jason Clark, DCA Public Relations, 01208-77900 [email protected]

Thursday 17 October 2013