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£1m Innovation Studios launched to meet Medway’s growing business landscape

7 September 2017

Entrepreneurs, start ups and burgeoning micro-firms are set to flourish in new pioneering £1million business space at Strood Waterfront.

Customised shipping containers have been used to create Medway Council’s new Innovation Studios Strood at Watermill Wharf, offering small and medium sized companies a sustainable, robust and affordable premises solution.

Meeting the demand of the growing economy

The demand for enterprise space locally is growing, with the economy worth around £4.8billion and more than 17,460 businesses calling Medway home. The area’s target growth rate is twice the national average and as per Medway’s Local Plan, 17,000 jobs are set to be created by 2035. 2015 GVA (gross value added) figures show a 5% growth on the 2014 level, which is more than the south east and UK growth of 3.2% and 2.6% over the same period.

With business clearly booming in Medway, it’s important the area can meet the needs of the expanding business landscape. Medway Council’s Innovation Studios Strood comprises 15 office spaces and 18 storage units which has been created using a kit of moveable and reusable parts based on shipping containers.

Almost £1 million has been invested in the project with £600,000 of the build cost secured via the Coastal Communities Fund. The build, which started in February 2017 with the basic units assembled in just two days, was managed by CargoTek which specialises in shipping container buildings, and QED Sustainable Urban Developments was responsible for the detailed design.

Part of a bigger plan for Medway

The development, located on a previously underused piece of land on the banks of the River Medway, is part of the council’s ambitious 20-year programme to regenerate Medway as a whole and make Watermill Wharf a hub for entrepreneurs. The Innovation Studios Strood is the second project in Medway’s growing ‘innovation business series’. The Innovation Centre Medway (ICM) based at Rochester Airport opened in 2009 and has been a roaring success, fuelling the council’s vision to make Medway an even more desirable place to do business, with excellent connections to the capital and continent.

Companies based at the new premises will benefit from the business support services provided at ICM, such as meeting rooms, networking events and training opportunities. With all of the Innovation Studio Strood units already committed, there’s an appetite from the council to get going on its next business hub.

The wide variety of tenants on board include a web design company, music label, fostering agency, print and design company, river transport provider and many more.

'A sustainable, robust, and affordable development'

Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation Cllr Jane Chitty said: “We are very excited to be officially launching the Innovation Studios Strood, and I’m delighted that all of the pods have been snapped up.

“Medway is fast becoming an even more desirable place for businesses to set up and operate from, so it’s not surprising that these new units have been filled so quickly. With quality high speed internet and being just three minutes from the HS1 at Strood Station, there’s a lot going for these inventive new premises.

“We opted to go with the unusual shipping container style build because they compliment the site’s industrial heritage, could be delivered quickly and are cost efficient. The units, which also incorporate storage, are an innovative way of providing office space for businesses. They are in an ideal location with views of the river, near a railway station and town centre, and walking distance from historical Rochester. The development has been designed very well and looks really attractive – perhaps not what you’d expect when you think of shipping containers usually.”

Ross Gilbert, Managing Director, CargoTek, said: “Medway is the South East’s largest urban area outside London, with growing demand for office space. As part of its ongoing work to regenerate the waterfront areas, Medway Council has continually embraced pioneering approaches to creating sustainable enterprise spaces for the benefit of local businesses and the economy.

“For Innovation Studios Strood we were able to work with Medway Council to bring vacant brownfield land on the waterfront back into productivity to deliver a sustainable, robust, and affordable development to help meet the growing demand for enterprise space.”

Chief Executive of Locate in Kent Paul Wookey, added: “Medway within the Kent County is in demand - with businesses realising the lower commercial rates in comparison to Central London, the connectivity that HS1 offers and the quality of life that can be achieved by living and/or working here to name a few. The Innovation Studios Strood is a really exciting development that adds to the Medway commercial offering. We’re excited to see the success of the businesses that choose to locate here over the coming months and years.”

Businesses interested in finding out more about the Innovation Studios Strood should call Innovation Centre Manager Farley Norman on 01634 887282.