Connect Derby, the region’s fastest growing managed workspace scheme, is celebrating its third anniversary with the news that it has created 22 new jobs for local people.

Since it was launched in the Spring of 2014, the Connect Derby project has exceeded all expectations – and is now a £30m project, which boasts 200 tenants across a diverse range of industry sectors.

During this time Connect Derby has expanded from its original five buildings to seven – Friar Gate Studios, Kings Chambers, Sadler Bridge Studios, Riverside Chambers, Shot Tower and most recently, the iconic Marble Hall on Nightingale Road and the exciting new iHub innovation centre, which forms the centre piece of Infinity Park.

The team, headed up by Ann Bhatti, provides micro businesses, entrepreneurs and SME’s with the high specification working environment, IT infrastructure and business support they need to fulfil their potential.

A team of 22 experienced operations, administrative staff and business support advisers have been recruited who support the businesses operating in the seven managed workspaces across the city.

The scheme continues to achieve high levels of occupancy across its seven buildings. Marble Hall achieved 55% occupancy less than four months after its launch, whilst occupancy levels at the iHub innovation centre recently passed the 50% mark.

As well as creating 22 new job within Connect Derby, it has also contributed to the creation of more than 220 jobs amongst the 2,700 businesses and entrepreneurs it has supported. 106 new businesses have been attracted into Connect Derby locations, 28% of which have relocated into Connect Derby buildings from outside of Derby city.

The scheme now supports some 229 SMEs across the professional services, creative industries and technology sectors.

Each building has a unique offering for existing businesses, or anyone considering self-employment or starting a new business. One of its strengths is its co-ordinated centre management and business support structure, which enables tenants to benefit from a planned pathway of development.

Opportunities available for tenants include business development, mentoring and coaching opportunities, along with a programme of events aimed at sharing skills and encouraging collaboration.

Speaking of its success, Councillor Martin Rawson, deputy leader of Derby City Council and

Cabinet Member for Regeneration and the Economy, said:

“Connect Derby project offers a high level of economic regeneration and job creation, backed by business development support and digital communication and over the past three years, has succeeded in creating a community that values skills, knowledge and collaboration.

“The Connect Derby scheme is contributing to the economic prosperity of the city and supporting many new and existing businesses and I would like to congratulate Ann Bhatti and her team for all their hard work over the past three years.”

Ann Bhatti, Connect Derby manager, added:

“I have been part of Connect Derby’s journey since day one and it’s been a privilege to watch it develop into the vibrant organisation it is today.

“Over the past three years, Connect Derby has single-handedly breathed life into Derby’s office market through the skilful reuse and development of a range of new facilities.

“We’re consistently hitting, and exceeding all our targets, which in no small part contributed to Derby being named as the start-up business capital of the UK last year.”

Connect Derby is a £30m project which brings together Derby City Council’s workspaces – Friar Gate Studios, Sadler Bridge Studios, Riverside Chambers (former Magistrates’ Court building on Full Street), Kings Chambers, Shot Tower and the new iHub innovation centre on Infinity Park – under one banner to create jobs for local people.

The scheme provides micro businesses, entrepreneurs and SMEs with the high specification working environment, IT infrastructure and business support they need to improve business survival rates and act as a catalyst for expansion and growth.

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