How is Hampshire a hotbed for innovation? with Jane Holt

23 Feb 2022
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How is Hampshire a hotbed for innovation? with Jane Holt

How is Hampshire a hotbed for innovation? with Jane Holt

Nella Pang is joined by Jane Holt, Business Development Director at University of Southampton Science Park. They discuss the projects and programmes happening at Southampton Science Park, why innovators are gravitating towards the South Coast and the Universities’ role in institutions like Southampton Science Park. They touch on how Southampton can attract more innovators and investors. One of the key takeaways of this episode is that businesses across the South Coast are very resilient and the sense of community pushes them to do more and be better.  

Key Insights From This Episode:  

  • Fundamentally, we are a business park but what makes us different is that we provide the community and the business support that enables them to grow their businesses and to thrive. – Jane  
  • Hampshire is a hotbed for innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship and skills, and its home to some of the biggest brands and the keenest minds in the world. – Nella 
  • Hampshire has a way of hiding its glories. We keep our secrets to ourselves. – Jane 
  • Coming out of the pandemic has really heightened how health and wellbeing are at the forefront of any business decision now. – Nella 
  • More than two out of five people of working age have a degree or the equivalent level qualification, so with more than 68,000 students across four Universities, the skill-base available to companies is outstanding. – Nella 
  • Lots of companies come to places like Southampton Science Park to have access to the in-house talent of the Universities. – Jane 
  • Throughout the whole of the South Coast, the businesses that are located here are very resilient and one of the best things is that we work quite closely in collaborating with each other and we have a whole sense of community to push forward competition. – Nella  
  • If you are taking an office building in central London on the West End, offices are £110 per square foot, whereas locally on the South Coast for new build, we’re quoting around £30 per square foot. – Nella 

About Our Guests: 

Jane Holt, Business Development Director at University of Southampton Science Park 

An experienced business development professional and communicator. Passionate about relationship building, identifying needs and facilitating solutions. Strong interpersonal and collaboration skills. Confident in growing and sustaining networks with business, academic and community leaders as clients, colleagues and stakeholders. In-depth knowledge of the commercial property, business start-up and outsourced service sectors. A collaborative leadership style and a chartered governance professional. Singing and competitive sailing vie for her spare time. More often than not she can be found yacht racing in the Solent or further afield, both inshore and offshore. She sings in various excellent choirs, large and small, in Southampton and Winchester. Before moving to Hampshire, she sang in the BBC Symphony Chorus (Last Night of the Proms!) and Kentish Opera. 

Timestamps: 

[00:55] What makes Southampton Science Park so successful? Can you explain what its main purpose is, its USP’s (Unique Selling Proposition) and how it works?  

  • Southampton Science Park is owned by the University of Southampton. They bought Chilworth Manor and its grounds, 30-35 years ago.  
  • Science Parks are a concept that originated in America. What we do is provide the built environment in which innovative technology and science businesses can thrive. 
  • Fundamentally, we are a business park but what makes us different is that we provide the community and the business support that enables them to grow their businesses and to thrive. 

[02:05] What are some of the amazing, life-changing projects that some of your tenants are creating in the park?  

  • Xim, founded by Laurence Pearce. They started with technology that enabled people to have their vital signs monitored remotely.  
  • Renovos – working on nano clays which are used in the process of hip replacement surgery. This business has been spun out of the University.  

[05:40] Could you explain a little bit more about the Catalyst Programme? 

  • Catalyst is our in-house business acceleration program or incubation program. 
  • It was started about 10 years ago when the financial crash of the late 2000s hit and we weren’t getting new talent from the University. 
  • Over a 6-month period, we provide a series of workshops combined with free shared business accommodation. We also provide coaching from seasoned business professionals.  

[07:45] Once you’ve been through the program, is there funding that is put forward to launch these businesses?  

  • Until recently, no – we would enable them to grow organically and support them to apply for outside funding. The programme is free to join, you get business space and we did pay some business expenses.  
  • For the first time last year, we had external funding at the initiative of Hampshire County Council. They wanted to identify small businesses with the greatest chance of succeeding, and of growing as well as of employing people in Hampshire. 
  • Test Valley Borough Council also helped with match funding.  

[11:10] Why do you think that innovators are gravitating to the South Coast? 

  • We need to shout a lot more about how good it is here, not just in Hampshire, but the whole South Coast. 
  • There is an amazing business environment here.  
  • You’ve got access to the investment pool of London.  
  • We’re accessible but we’re good value for money. 
  • We have good universities down here that provide a pool of talented graduates.  

[16:10] How important are the Universities’ roles in working in partnership with institutions like yourselves and other private businesses?  

  • Universities are not just talent pools of fresh graduates. They are also sources of information, knowledge, innovation and invention.  
  • Lots of companies come to places like Southampton Science Park to have access to the in-house talent of the universities and the expertise. 
  • We currently have a construction project on-site here for a building called the Engineering Centre. In the centre of the building, there is a collaboration space.  

[20:30] How can we attract more innovators into the region, what are they looking for and what initiatives can we bring forward? 

  • Two organisations that we need to be supporting are Business South (their mission is to get Central South on the map and get people talking about it) and Hampshire Business, part of the Hampshire City Council.  
  • Being a fairly affluent county, we do have pockets of deprivation which need to be addressed.  
  • There is little government support but businesses succeed in spite of it, or maybe because of it, it’s forced to grow organically. They are forced to rely on their own initiatives, policies and strategies. 

[23:45] Throughout the whole of the South Coast, the businesses that are located here are very resilient and one of the best things is that we work quite closely in collaborating with each other and we have a whole sense of community to push forward competitors and competition and there’s a huge backing behind it. Sometimes it’s not necessarily the government funding but it’s the support network. What are your thoughts?  

  • That is very true in the life science sector, there is so much interest in active investment.  
  • The UK had gone into this global crisis and had demonstrated itself almost immediately as an amazing country in which to innovate within life science. 
  • Therapies that came out to alleviate symptoms of COVID, vaccine programs and the development of vaccines. 
  • There were also companies that pivoted what they were doing when they lost their markets and they thought what can we do while we work out our longer-term strategy. 
  • The UK government has historically been supportive of business and in recent years that really comes to the fore.  

[28:10] If you are taking an office building in central London on the West End, offices are £110 per square foot, whereas locally on the South Coast for new build, we’re quoting around £30 per square foot. South Coast offers a significant area of opportunity for businesses to cut costs and be in a much more vibrant workplace balance. What are your thoughts?  

  • It’s not just about the bottom line in terms of let’s cut costs and increase profits. It’s cut overheads and reinvest in our business. 
  • We always say to companies who come in, do you need that bigger full plate? We are home to growing businesses, we want to enable them to grow. 
  • If you are taking a glamorous office and you’ve got your own very attractive boardroom built-in, which is empty most of the time, that’s dead money. 
  • By your business doing well, you do well by the local economy. 

[30:00] The whole pandemic has enabled the explosion of coworking and operations. Southampton Science Park has the ability on-site where you’ve got your service office, where you can get a dedicated desk or a coworking arrangement, but then you do have your labs and yourself contained offices as well. Can you tell us more?  

  • You can spend a lot of your corporate journey in this one location. You have a real growth path. You can come in and rent a desk, then take a small office and then expand down to the more expensive, more modern, more corporate. 
  • We were having these conversations about what is the office for before COVID, but there was a reluctance and a nervousness around how do I manage my staff? 
  • We’ve realised that people want to do a good job and people want to keep their jobs therefore they work. It’s just as easy to monitor and manage staff who are spread out a bit as it is to manage them onsite.  
  • Business needs a home.  

 [33:30] Quick-fire questions 

1)Who are the movers and shakers of our region? 

  • Venture Fest 
  • Business Innovation South  
  • Business South  
  • Hampshire County Council  
  • Hampshire Story 

2)What is the best thing about living on the South Coast?  

  • The completeness of the offering.  
  • Nature, culture and access to London.  

3)What is your favourite mantra that you live by? 

  • The default setting is yes.  

Resources: 

Companies Mentioned: 

Shout Outs: 

About Our Host 

Nella Pang 

I left the corporate world in 2020 and launched Omega RE a commercial advisory firm in a pandemic, whilst on maternity. Brave some people would say. 🚀 

The pandemic has taught many of us a thing or two, particularly on how we can do business. I support businesses to navigate the complexities of Commercial Real Estate, so they can achieve their business objectives through their Real Estate decisions. 

Lease negotiations can be a minefield. Even small mistakes can drive up costs. That’s why I will represent your interests every step of the way, ensuring you receive full value of our experience and market knowledge. 

With over 18 years’ experience in the Commercial Property Market having worked for the big corporates Jones Lang LaSalle Limited, BNP Paribas Real Estate and Vail Williams. 

I want to be able to share my corporate knowledge with my clients, whilst offering a more personal dedicated commercial advisory service. 

Having acted for a wide range of clients from major pension funds to private investors, small businesses and individuals. I love meeting people and I am passionate about adding value to my clients business and watching their business thrive. 

About Omega RE 

Omega RE is commercial property advisory firm based on the South Coast. Providing expert advice to Landlords, Occupiers in the industrial, office and retail markets. 

Omega RE is always thinking ‘Outside the Box’ in our advice to clients and the way we do business. We don’t settle for mediocre, we challenge the norm and are dedicated to finding solutions that is best for our clients. 

We are a people business, based on strong relationships and partnerships, and we offer a personal level of service. 

As the market evolves, we will too adapt to be successful and want the same for our clients. We are committed to finding innovative ways of marketing and how to do things more efficiently. 

We will never stagnate. 

We are disciplined in everything we do, we take time to understand the situation and set a bespoke strategy for each client. Not one size fits all. We do not cut corners or take short cuts and our integrity is undisputed. 

Providing clients’ a hands on approach to finding the perfect property; office, industrial, warehouse or retail space to meet business needs and negotiating the best commercial lease terms, is what we do best. 

We come to work because we’re passionate about providing expert, innovative, independent advice to clients. We want to help businesses navigate the complexities of Commercial Real Estate. 

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