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The Creative Quarter, the City Deal, and a Challenge

view of Nottingham street
view of Nottingham street

Looking toward the Creative Quarter (Nottingham By Andrea Ferrante

This morning the City and central Government announced a major “City Deal”, with a strong focus on creative industries and startups, for Nottingham. This is the result of a lot of work by many people here, and the central government, all of whom deserve our thanks. There is a summary on the City Council website  and in the press releases from two key players, Antenna and BioCity.

Antenna’s press release includes:

Today Antenna welcomed the Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government who comes to Nottingham to announce The City Deal. The eight biggest cities in the country are set to receive a Government City Deal – an initiative which gives cities outside of London more powers to make decisions and spend money on transport and regeneration schemes locally. Nottingham’s City Deal is particularly exciting with over £50m being pledged to:

  • Develop the Nottingham Creative Quarter, an area which encompasses Nottingham’s three key emerging sectors – the creative and digital media sector, health and life sciences and green tech. Many of Nottingham’s emerging growth sector businesses are already located in the area and it is where new businesses in these sectors will be encouraged to locate to create a high value clustering effect.
  • The Quarter, an  ‘incubator without walls’, includes Antenna plus BioCity, Broadway, Broadmarsh East and the Island site and will be the focus of a package of concerted business development activity to enable entrepreneurship to flourish within the heart of Nottingham’s city centre.

@lucyhg (part of KuKu Apps who did the Creative Nottingham Iphone App), live tweeted one of the Pickles’ talks. Even though most of this was politico speak (“Eric Pickles says Nott’m is a massively important city, a place of hope, pride, and where things get done”), it is still nice to hear.

BioCity’s press release includes:

BioCity Nottingham has welcomed today’s announcement that a Creative Quarter for Nottingham will be established under the Government’s City Deals programme. The multi-million pound deal has been negotiated by Nottingham City Council in collaboration and consultation with the private sector spearheaded by BioCity director Toby Reid. A plan will now be drawn up to provide financial and other incentives for dynamic entrepreneurs to set up in a defined area east of the city centre. This takes in BioCity Nottingham, Sneinton Market, Antenna, The Broadway Centre and Nottingham Contemporary.

The Creative Quarter will take business incubation principles developed so successfully by BioCity and Antenna to transform the designated area into a thriving commercial, retail and residential location. New job creation, talent retention and building aspiration across the whole city underpin what is to be the first geographical business incubator of its kind in the UK.

The intention, amongst several development plans, will be to provide accommodation on a low commitment basis, a team of over 250 apprentices to work on company or infrastructure projects and access to a £45 million venture capital fund for innovative life science, green tech and digital enterprises. Once in place, this VC fund will be likely to represent one of the highest concentrations of capital available to new start firms in Europe.

This is a large government initiative, with many components, which will become clearer over the coming weeks. It is primarily an enabler, without action in Nottingham it will be wasted. As the recipient of the Science & Technology Entrepreneur Award last night at the Post Business awards , Adam Bird of Esendex, @adambird, tweeted: It’s up to us now to ensure it delivers a legacy we can be proud of.

When Adam says “us”, he means YOU.

John is one of our team of bloggers. He can be reached on john AT and followed on Twitter @johnwithbeard