Berkshire: Oversupply of commercial co-working space highlighted by LEP report

Berkshire has experienced a marked increase in innovation spaces provision over recent years, with the majority offered in commercial co-working space. However, recent research suggests there may be a mismatch of supply and demand, and an over-supply of the wrong type of space, resulting in unmet demand for innovation space in the area.

Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has commissioned an independent report, ‘An assessment of the availability and role of Innovation Spaces in Berkshire’, to examine the availability and role of innovation spaces in the LEP area. The report makes four recommendations to affect a better match between supply and demand:

  • Make better use of existing innovation spaces, including improving links between existing Innovation Spaces and the LEP-funded Berkshire Business Growth Hub
  • Create more small ‘affordable’ innovation spaces
  • Develop new delivery models
  • Pursue longer term, eco-system-wide, ventures to galvanise emerging innovation spaces

The research was commissioned in response to the emerging BLIS – Berkshire Local Industrial Strategy – but as a first step it has been used to inform a new ERDF Call for  £1.65 million. This has just been published by The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and will complement the LEP’s ongoing support for business growth, with an emphasis on research and innovation in Berkshire. The Call looks to:

  • enhance research and innovation infrastructure and capacities to develop research and innovation excellence, and promote centres of competence
  • promote business investment in research and innovation

The outline application deadline is 30 September 2019. Interested organisations can download the Call specification at thamesvalleyberkshire.co.uk/european-regional-development-fund.htm

Jacinta George, business environment programme lead and board director at Thames Valley Berkshire LEP, said: “We are looking for applications that will ensure knowledge is effectively commercialised and grown in Berkshire; and which support the appropriate development of innovation spaces, particularly in our town centres and/or close to railway stations – to invest in and strengthen our soft networks. Strong business networks improve the flow of information between firms, encourage innovation and reduce risk, and are frequently a catalyst for growth. The Call also looks to support business growth, recognising the enormous potential that exists within our population of SMEs.”