The Wilton Centre – now part of the UK’s largest network of science parks – has revealed that nearly 30,000 sq ft of additional office and laboratory space has been leased over the last twelve months.
Requirements have come from both new and existing occupiers and follows the completion of a £2m refurbishment at the site near Redcar.
Accommodation manager Claire Morton, who has been in the role for five years, said the demand was unprecedented. “It’s the equivalent of filling a multi-storey city centre office block from scratch,” she said.
There are six new occupiers joining the sixty companies – which are a mixture of science-based businesses and professional services firms – already based at the Wilton Centre. More than 750 people work there.
The latest arrivals are GE Energy, Petrofac, NRL Limited, Rely on Fire Check, NKT HVC Ltd and Agilia Infrastructure Partners.
In November Redcar MP Jacob Young said the Wilton Centre was going to play a key role in delivering the 18,000 new jobs which the new Teesside Freeport is expected to create over the next five years. The centre is just outside the Freeport boundary.
“We’re right at the start of an incredibly exciting phase with huge levels of investment going into new industries,” said Ms Morton. “The Wilton Centre is perfectly located to accommodate the management and office staff needed to run these businesses and we have laboratories available for their scientists to research, test and innovate.”
She added: “What we also offer is the flexibility to take more space if the need arises. During the last few months companies who have been involved in the response to COVID-19, for example, have needed to expand to meet the demand for their expertise.”
One of them is the award-wining Micropore Technologies which had just a single employee when it moved to the Wilton Centre in 2016. During the pandemic it doubled its staff to 16. The company has just signed a long-term lease and taken on more office and laboratory space.
“The centre’s been very supportive and flexible,” said Micropore Technologies’ Chief Executive Dai Hayward MBE. “The reasons we moved here in the first place remain the same. It’s well-resourced and in a good location in an area with a very firm foundation in science and engineering.”
In April the Wilton Centre became one of 10 science parks in the UK and Ireland owned by We are Pioneer Group (WAPG), which was formed through a £120m merger between its previous owner Trinity IM and BioCity Group. The parks cover nearly 3m sq ft and are home to more than 600 hundred businesses.
September saw the completion of the centre’s refurbishment which created a new entrance and reception, two new restaurants and numerous collaborative working spaces – including pods and booths – which were provided to reflect businesses’ desire for greater flexibility.