A new centre aiming to attract businesses to the site of a former shipyard has been officially opened.
Nearly £2m has been invested in the business centre – the Centre for Innovation – which has been created by North Tyneside Council.
Located on the Swans North Tyneside site in Wallsend, it is home to a range of businesses, with the official opening taking place on Friday.
Advanced engineering, sub-sea, marine, oil, gas and offshore renewable energy sector companies are among those taking advantage of its position in the River Tyne North Bank Low Carbon Enterprise Zone.
North Tyneside MP Mary Glindon said: “I was delighted to open the Centre for Innovation and meet some of the businesses based there.
“It’s fantastic that the development has attracted so many different businesses and it’s a major coup for North Tyneside Council that a company from Aberdeen – the energy capital of Europe – has chosen to locate part of its business at the centre.
“It shows that North Tyneside is firmly establishing itself within the oil, gas, renewable energy and marine sectors.
“This is such an exciting time for Wallsend – with extensive regeneration of the town centre and now this great facility at Swans.”
The development has involved the conversion of two floors of a five storey office block owned by North Tyneside Council.
The centre is a major part of a wider and ongoing £100million project, led by the council, to transform the former Swan Hunter shipyard into a hub for the renewable energy and marine sectors.
Mayor Norma Redfearn added: “I’d like to personally welcome all the businesses to the centre and wish them every success for the future.
“North Tyneside has a fast-growing and dynamic business community and I am pleased they will play such a big part of it.
“With the Centre for Innovation now occupied, it strengthens the borough’s reputation, on a national scale, as a first-class and accessible location for the global oil, gas, renewable and maritime industries.
“Swan Hunter shipyard had a worldwide reputation and I have been determined to get Swans back on the global map – I am delighted we have succeeded in bringing it back to life.”
The ground floor of the Centre for Innovation has one large open plan office at 242 square metres and four smaller offices ranging from 17 to 26 square metres, with the first floor offering nine small to medium-sized offices.
The upper floors of the building – which have been occupied for many years by Swan Hunter North East Limited – will continue to be used by them.
As an Enterprise Zone, the Swans site has appealed to firms because they’re able to take advantage of a number of benefits if they locate to the area before March 2018 - including up to five years’ business rate relief, a simplified planning scheme and superfast broadband.
Kier Property is the development partner for the project.
Mark Robinson, Director of Kier Property, said: “We’re delighted that the Centre for Innovation is now officially open and has got off to a great start by attracting a number of new and varied businesses to the site.
“The Centre not only offers a unique hub for the energy, renewable and maritime industries in a prime location on the banks of the River Tyne, but also allows opportunity for small and medium-sized firms to take advantage of a number of business incentives, making for an advantageous all-round package.
“We wish each of the businesses already on site the best of luck in their new base and look forward to welcoming more new arrivals to the Centre for Innovation in the months ahead.”
One of the businesses that recently moved into the Centre for Innovation is M2 Subsea Limited.
The Aberdeen-based company, which specialises in subsea remotely operated vehicles and provides diverless intervention services worldwide, has established its global technical support centre at the Centre for Innovation.
Mike Winstanley, business development director at M2 Subsea said: “We were attracted to the region by the positive attitude and encouragement from the local authority to be located at Swans.
“Key drivers were the assistance available for new businesses in the area, the availability of experienced engineering personnel, and the proximity to one of our main supplier who is based in Newcastle – with all of these factors, the decision became obvious.”
Andrew Hodgson, chair of the North East LEP said: “Innovation is at the heart of the North East LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan for creating more and better jobs in the north east.
“To have this Centre for Innovation launching in North Tyneside is a real asset for the region and demonstrates that the benefits offered by Enterprise Zones are a major draw for businesses.”
For more information, or to enquire about the last remaining offices, visit www.investnorthtyneside.co.uk email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (0191) 643 6409.