ONE starts work on creating North East’s digital tech hub at Schoolhill

Jackie Doyle (left), Director of Digital & Entrepreneurship at ONE, and Michael Boniface, Head of ONE CodeBase, at the RGU Schoolhill site which is being transformed into a tech hub to grow the North East digital economy.
Jackie Doyle (left), Director of Digital & Entrepreneurship at ONE, and Michael Boniface, Head of ONE CodeBase, at the RGU Schoolhill site which is being transformed into a tech hub to grow the North East digital economy.

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A £1.5million investment is underway to create a dedicated tech hub for digital and entrepreneurship activity in Aberdeen city centre, led by private sector economic development body Opportunity North East (ONE) in partnership with the UK’s leading digital tech incubator CodeBase and Robert Gordon University (RGU).

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The project is part of the action and investment to develop a vibrant digital company cluster in the North East as part of the regional renaissance strategy for long-term economic diversification.

The hub will be a key location for digitally-focussed businesses of all sizes. It will combine events space and hot desking, co-working and office space for early stage digital companies as they grow towards investor readiness with flexible accommodation for established and growing digital companies. Programmes of activity to support digital company creation and growth will be delivered within the hub – creating a unique environment and ecosystem for the digital tech community in the region.

The refurbishment to create the hub has begun and it will open in spring 2019. New activity supporting the regional digital ambition will be based in the hub, including ONE CodeBase and RGU’s new entrepreneurship accelerator programme. It is anticipated that the hub will be the location of choice for digitally-focussed alumni from accelerator programmes such as TechX and Elevator and for spin-outs from RGU, University of Aberdeen and NESCol.

Sir Ian Wood KT GBE, chair of the ONE D&E sector board, said: “ONE aims to accelerate the growth of early stage and established digital tech businesses, help the region’s key industries embrace transformational digital solutions to improve productivity, and enhance the entrepreneurial environment to support company creation and scale-up. The tech hub on Schoolhill will provide a dedicated environment for the region’s digital community to collaborate and grow alongside bespoke support. Our digital ambition and commitment to build the tech community and company cluster will contribute to the goal of long-term economic diversification.”

Gordon McConnell, vice principal of commercial and regional innovation at RGU, said: “The new space forms part of our ambitious vision to drive digital and entrepreneurship activities in the North East, providing a focal point for digital entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators for the city and region. The presence of the new RGU-led start-up accelerator programme means that RGU and NESCol staff, student and alumni start-ups will be able to interact with a wide range of other creatives in a dedicated facility that will be a major asset to economic development in Aberdeen.”

Michael Boniface, head of ONE CodeBase, said: “At ONE CodeBase, we aim to build a collaborative community of companies and individuals who are sharing the experience of starting, growing and scaling digital tech businesses. The proven CodeBase model brings together ambitious entrepreneurs, world-class tech talent and top investors, in a creative, peer group environment with hands-on mentorship, networking and world-class business support. Having helped companies grow to scale in Edinburgh, we are now applying this approach in North East Scotland to help businesses transform and scale.

“It’s ideas and the people behind them that are most important. Sharing ideas, supporting one another and being open to hearing advice is key to meeting our ambition to grow a cluster of tech companies in the region as part of the wider economic diversification agenda. Our meet-up speakers have demonstrated the value of the build measure learn feedback loop and the exciting and unexpected results that this model can produce.

“The ONE CodeBase team has started identifying and assessing prospective tenants who will benefit from the specialised support and the hot desking, co-working and flexible office space in the hub, and we are very encouraged by the potential to grow tech companies of scale in the region,” said Michael.

Polly Purvis, chief executive of digital industries trade association ScotlandIS said: “At ScotlandIS we’re delighted to be working with ONE to develop the digital technologies industry in the North East. ONE’s investment in a dedicated digital tech hub is a great opportunity to create focus, stimulate new business creation, and support existing businesses to grow.”

Gillian Docherty, chief executive of The Data Lab innovation centre, said: “The ONE tech hub is a fantastic development for the Aberdeen area, the North East, and indeed for Scotland. It is great to welcome an initiative that provides a space for innovation and support to businesses in the region. The North East is an area with strong entrepreneurial and technical expertise and ambition, and this new space will contribute to strengthening this community, facilitate collaboration and accelerate the development great ideas.”

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