Wakefield’s first Tech Hub breathes life into former clinic
Wakefield is to get its first Tech Hub which will act as an incubator for start ups in the creative and digital sector and a hive for growing businesses creating jobs and promoting apprenticeships.
The Plex, on Margaret Street, central Wakefield, which was once home to the city’s Mayor and latterly an NHS Clinic, has been given a second lease of life thanks to Wakefield Business Centres.
The company, which owns office complexes in Wakefield and Ossett, has restored and renovated the Grade II listed building in keeping with its Georgian heritage and installed a series of SMART systems for heat and power control and the ultimate in connectivity combining the best from history with 21st century technology.
Already home to a series of tech business including, Bold Identities and Endeavor Healthcare, The Plex has been designed to attract and nurture co-working, hot-desking and dedicated serviced offices with meeting rooms. When fully occupied there is room for 39 actual businesses employing potentially 160 people.
Just ten minutes’ walk from Wakefield Westgate rail station and therefore two hours from London, The Plex is ideally located to support existing and ambitious businesses in Wakefield and around West Yorkshire.
Graham Howarth, senior partner of Wakefield Business Centres said that The Plex was the realisation of a long-held ambition to offer a creative space for tech businesses providing incubation and work opportunities through apprenticeships.
“The Plex is close to Wakefield College and we hope that tech companies in the hub will harness talent graduating from there to support their own growth and job creation in the city,” he said.
“Entrepreneurs with innovative ideas will be encouraged to pitch for hot-desks, mentoring and investment and we will then match them with our tech, digital and creative tenants for mutual benefit,” he added.
“Eventually we hope to offer Digital and Creative accelerator courses in subjects such as coding and web design potentially for re-trainees.”
While acknowledging that some businesses will be existing organisations many others will be startups or growing gazelles.
Mr Howarth said that the motivation for a tech specific complex was the frustration among the local business community of a talent brain drain.
“Wakefield grows, trains and then loses our brightest and best to neighbouring cities, yet local businesses need their skills and expertise, so they can grow,” he said. “Having already seen two Plex businesses collaborate demonstrates that the right environment acts as a catalyst for growth. Now we want other Wakefield businesses to tap into our new tenants,” he added.
The Plex will be officially opened on Tuesday July 10 at 5.00pm by Sir Rodney Walker, himself a Wakefield entrepreneur.
Wakefield Business Centres was able to acquire the Margaret Street building thanks to Vickers Charnley acting as brokers for South Yorkshire NHS trust.