Composite Braiding, an exciting new company specialising in thermoplastic composite braiding, is the latest in a series of hi-tech businesses to choose Derby’s iHub innovation centre on Infinity Park as its new base.
The company, which is headed-up by Little Eaton businessman Steve Barbour, has opted for a hybrid working environment at the 45,000ft2 iHub, the centre-piece of Infinity Park, the new 100-acre commercial and technology site, located between Sinfin and Chellaston.
As well as traditional office space, the firm has taken a 1,000ft2 state-of-the-art workshop, which will enable it to establish its own manufacturing capability.
Composite Braiding specialises in thermoplastic composite braiding, an innovative process which provides a stronger, tougher and more flexible alternative to woven composites. By combining thermoplastic with a composite material, braided structures are tailored to meet demands and performance criteria across any sector.
As well as enabling products to be purpose-designed, it generates a 50 – 60% weight save and it is inherently recyclable at its end of life stage.
Composite Braiding is differentiating itself from other composite manufacturing businesses in the region by providing a highly automated process that will reduce costs and increase efficiency.
Steve has a wealth of experience in the composites industry, gained in both the UK and overseas. Prior to setting up Composite Braiding, he was managing director of two successful UK composite manufacturing businesses as well as running a factory in South Africa, while general manager of a business in the Advanced Composite Group, that was based in Heanor.
Before that, he worked for Rolls-Royce – his last two roles being head of marketing and customer business director, which involved running sales, customer service and commercial teams for Europe.
The iHub, which has Enterprise Zone status, provides high quality, flexible workspace for start-ups, early stage businesses and high growth SME’s looking to establish, or expand their role in the transport engineering and hi-tech sectors.
Since it was launched last Autumn, the £12m facility has attracted a diverse range of businesses from across the rail, aerospace and automotive supply industries. Occupancy levels have exceeded all expectations and are on target to hit the 90% within its first year of trading.
As well as 18 traditional office workspaces, it features 14 ground floor workshops for businesses seeking a more hybrid working environment.
Another exciting addition to the facilities at the iHub is the innovative ‘iLab’, which promotes invention by enabling the rapid prototyping of a range of products and services. It also boasts high end virtual reality, 3D printing and surface microscope equipment.
The building also offers a multi-purpose ‘heart space’ area, available for hosting external conferences and events, along with meeting and seminar rooms.
Speaking of his decision to base his business at the iHub, Steve said:
“After being in jobs that involved a lot of travelling and working away from home, I wanted to set up base somewhere closer to my home in Little Eaton. I toured several other buildings in and around Derby, but the iHub was far superior in terms of the variety of workshop sizes, and the lease terms.
“As a relatively new company, I was looking for premises that could really nurture the business and take to the next stage of its development. I believe the iHub is the perfect place for me to do this and the business will benefit from Connect Derby’s co-ordinated centre management and business support structure.”
Ann Bhatti, Connect Derby manager, added:
“Composite Braiding is one of a growing number of tenants taking office and workshop space at the iHub.
“Steve and his team are helping the iHub to reinforce its reputation for creating cutting-edge ideas, particularly in the aerospace, automotive and transport engineering industries.”
The iHub builds on the success of the popular Connect Derby scheme, which has created a strong market for mixed use and sector specific serviced offices across the city at its six other buildings across the city – Friar Gate Studios, Marble Hall, Riverside Chambers, Sadler Bridge Studios, Kings Chambers and Shot Tower.
The development has received funding from the Regional Growth Fund and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), as well as Derby City Council and the University of Derby.