A total of 25 specialised technology jobs have been retained in Leicestershire thanks to the adaptability of Harborough Innovation Centre which is owned and funded by Harborough District Council (HDC).


The turnover of digital promotions experts Code String has grown by 1,000 per cent since launching in August 2011, with the company providing the technical mechanisms behind major promotions for some of the world’s leading brands. Having just employed its 24th and 25th members of staff, the firm was looking to leave its base at Harborough Innovation Centre, home since February 2012, to move into a bigger office, with options in Northamptonshire being considered. In response, the centre has converted two of its offices into one larger premise, giving it 1,523 sq ft over two rooms to keep the high-tech jobs in the Harborough area.


As the building’s owner, HDC also funds the centre’s business support provision, providing the basis for expert business advice, mentoring and workshops. It is managed by Oxford Innovation.


The centre is based on the Airfield Business Park and provides flexible office space solutions for up to 57 innovative, early-stage businesses. Services include private offices, shared offices, virtual facilities and meeting rooms. Councillor James Hallam, Harborough District Council’s portfolio holder with responsibility for finance and assets, said: “The main objective of Harborough Innovation Centre is to help flourishing companies like Code String not only survive but thrive “boosting the local economy by providing flexible space and tailored business support to growing local entrepreneurs and small businesses in Harborough District.”
News of Code String staying comes following the announcement in the autumn by HDC that funding has been secured for its Grow on Space building, due to open later this year at the Compass Point Business Park in Market Harborough, which will provide prime office space for businesses looking to expand and move into larger accommodation in the district.

Founder and Managing Director Steve Irons said: “We were here in the early days when it was just two of us shortly after the Harborough Innovation Centre opened and the team here have supported us throughout our journey. Having our business based in the heart of a thriving business community has also helped us to collaborate and be able to ask questions to fellow business owners. That has been invaluable. “We considered moving recently due to our expanding staff numbers, but thankfully they were able to adapt to our new requirements. I was thankful because we know we would not be able to get the same support elsewhere.” As well as providing the technical expertise to devise large-scale promotions, Code String has made its name by being reliable, providing the software and hardware, through its own private cloud-based in London, needed to ensure its systems can handle significant quantities of data. The promotions supported by Code String span the automotive, retail, food and technology sectors and have been rolled out in every country in the world. The company has developed an “˜off-the-shelf’ promotions package, which will allow companies to run smaller-scale campaigns themselves. It is also planning to launch an academy to train up people in specialised coding skills, not necessarily just to work for the Code String, in a bid to further establish the region as a front-runner in the technology industry.


Liza Menzies, who manages the Harborough Innovation Centre, said: “We are all proud of Code String and what the company has achieved. So when they needed more space, but did not want to leave Harborough IC, we were keen to get creative and find a flexible solution which would allow them to stay and continue to be a part of our collaborative business community.”


Office premises are available in a range of unit sizes from 157 sq ft to 1,065 sq ft on flexible licence agreements, so that customers are free of any long-term letting commitments. Harborough Innovation Centre is currently offering discounts for the hire of meeting rooms, get in touch for more information. To arrange a tour of the Centre or to enquire about meeting room hire, please call Centre Manager, Liza Menzies on 01858 414200 or visit Harborough-ic.co.uk.

At Oxford Innovation, we really understand how to make property work – for the building owners, our centre customers, and for regional economic success.
We manage a UK network of Innovation Centres that provides the ideal environment for over 900 startups and SMEs to grow. Our centres are managed on behalf of public and private sector building owners that require a high-quality service that reliably delivers financial returns, whilst contributing to the economic growth of the regions in which we operate. With over 20 years of experience in running Innovation Centres, we have the experience, the insight and the expertise you are looking for to make your building long-term success. For more information go to www.oxin-centres.co.uk


Harborough Innovation Centre

Harborough Innovation Centre provides 57 offices which include studios plus meeting rooms, together with catering facilities and a business centre. Office premises are available in a range of unit sizes from 157 ” 1,065 sq ft on flexible licence agreements so that customers are free of any long-term letting commitments. The centre also offers a virtual office service for entrepreneurs that require a professional address and telephone answering service. For more information: www.harborough-ic.co.uk.


The Harborough Innovation Centre project

Full planning permission was granted for the centre on March 16 2010, by Harborough District Council’s planning committee. Construction commenced in August 2010 and the building was completed and handed over on 20 July 2011. The first customers occupied the building on 08.08.2011. The Innovation Centre is owned by Harborough District Council and was constructed by William Davis Ltd, who own the remainder of the Airfield Business Park. The Harborough Innovation Centre has been financed principally by European grant funding received via emda and DCLG. The European Regional Development Fund provided £1.689million and an emda Single Programme grant provided £2.359million.


ERDF nationally

The ERDF Programme aims to strengthen economic and social cohesion in the European Union by supporting regional economic development. The ERDF objectives for England are:

▪ Promoting innovation and knowledge transfer.
▪ Stimulating enterprise and supporting successful business.
▪ Ensuring sustainable development, production and consumption.
▪ Building sustainable communities.
▪ Improving accessibility and connectivity (for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly only “as part of their Convergence Programme)

A Programme Monitoring Committee consisting of regional stakeholders such as RDAs, Regional Assemblies, Local Authorities, Sub-regional Partnerships, Higher Education Institutions, Trade Unions, and the private and voluntary sectors will monitor and oversee programme implementation in each region.


ERDF in the East Midlands

The East Midlands is eligible for 268.5m between 2007 and 2013, which when combined with match funding, provides a programme value of approximately 537m a significant investment in the economic development of the region. The East Midlands qualifies as a competitiveness and employment region under the EU’s Cohesion Policy, which aims to meet the EU Lisbon objective to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social inclusion.’From 1 July 2011, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has taken on the management of ERDF in the East Midlands.

The Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP)

The LLEP is a strategic body led by a Board made up of local government and business leaders as well as senior education and third sector representatives.
The LLEP’s remit is to drive forward regeneration and growth of the local economy, by:

▪ Working with Government to set out key investment priorities for Leicester & Leicestershire
▪ Engaging with business, local authorities, Higher Education, Further Education, the voluntary sector and other stakeholders
▪ Facilitating local partnership working and relations with national Government Influencing national Government economic policy and spending
▪ Investing LLEP funding and aligning partner resources
▪ Through its investments, influence and activities ensure positive outcomes for the local economy