The Workshed incubation hub on track to deliver much-needed space for Swindon’s tech innovators
Swindon’s long hoped for business incubation hub opens its doors this week, giving the town’s fast-growing innovative tech and creative firms access to modern and affordable office space.
The Workshed will boast mainly open-plan co-working space for 150 workstations, with some serviced offices and hot-desk facilities of the type that have become popular with start-ups and scale-up companies in many other towns and cities.
Forming part of the historic Carriage Works redevelopment scheme on the town’s former railworks, The Workshed is expected to become a honeypot for dynamic, fast-growth businesses, especially those involved in innovation or disruptive tech.
Plans to open such a hub in Swindon have been on the cards for several years. Similar centres in Bath, Oxford and Bristol, such as that city’s Engine Shed – also housed in a former railway building – have created vibrant business and innovation hubs, helping develop further their burgeoning tech and creative industries.
The Workshed, which will open for business this Friday, is the result of a £1m refurbishment of part of the Carriage Works by building owner Swindon Borough Council.
The 7,000 sq ft of heritage space has been transformed into state-of-the-art office space, meeting rooms and conference facilities. and will offer affordable office space suitable for cutting-edge, creative and technology companies – with co-working packages starting at just £75 a month.
The centre’s management contract has been awarded to The Enterprise Network, the Wiltshire Council initiative) that aims to nurture new and developing businesses with growth potential. In the case of The Workshed, businesses are likely to be active in the science, technology, research and development and digital arts sectors.
Newly appointed centre manager Jol Rose is excited about creating a vibrant business community where people can network, inspire each other, learn and grow their businesses at an accelerated rate.
He said: “Brunel was a major innovator 200 years ago with his engineering triumphs of trains, tunnels, bridges and ships.
“The Workshed brings innovation right back to the heart of Swindon. Inventors face so many disappointments before they get their breakthroughs. Think of Edison’s thousand attempts at creating the light bulb! Our vision is to nurture business owners and help them thrive in a supportive atmosphere.”
He said The Workshed’s location was also a huge advantage – it is just 500 metres from Swindon railway station, close to the town centre and the Designer Outlet Village.
The opening of The Workshed completes the first of four phases in the regeneration of the former Brunel Carriage Works, an integral part of the council’s ambitious plans to regenerate the town centre.
The council is investing £2m in the £4m project to create much-needed modern office space.
Council leader Cllr David Renard said: “The Carriage Works is a really exciting project and I am delighted to welcome The Enterprise Network on board as we have already attracted a lot of interest from businesses across Swindon, Wiltshire and further afield.
“The council is making a significant investment in bringing these historical buildings back to life and creating a thriving hub for business and cultural uses.
“We already have some businesses ready to move in and with the Carriage Works’ close proximity to the railway station, I’m sure it will be an attractive option for many firms.”
Pictured, from left:, Adam Taylor, area sales manager for mechanical engineering firm Breathing Buildings, hands over The Workshed’s keys to centre manager Jol Rose watched by Keziah Hitchens from Wiltshire Council