Work has begun on a new Growth Hub at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) in Cirencester, which will provide dedicated business support to start-up companies within Gloucestershire.
The Growth Hub has been part-funded by the GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in the form of a £1.25m grant. With a specific focus on the needs of the rural sector, it will be a physical resource centre to drive innovation, enterprise, and economic growth for the local business community.
The Growth Hub will support businesses to accelerate their growth and exploit their full potential. The dynamic working environment will creating valuable networking opportunities, and enable links between start-up companies, their more established counterparts, and the University.
It will become home to Farm491, the University’s agri-tech incubation centre, which provides business support and office space for start-ups within the agricultural technology sector. Farm491 also offer practical workshop facilities, where agri-businesses can research, create, and test their products. Launched in 2017, these are located at our Rural Innovation Centre at Harnhill Manor Farm, just 10 minutes’ drive from the RAU campus.
The two-storey building is being built by Midas Construction and project managed by Ridge & Partners. It was designed by SRA Architects in Bath, to sit sympathetically adjacent to the University’s historic campus. It will feature high quality shared spaces that will encourage collaborative working, and allow cross-pollination of new business ventures and ideas.
A ground-breaking ceremony took place on 26 July, attended by Dr Diane Savory OBE, GFirst LEP Chair, David Owen, GFirst LEP CEO, and Professor Joanna Price, RAU Vice-Chancellor. Senior representatives from Midas Construction and Ridge & Partners also attended the ceremony.