SQW Group has announced that through its subsidiary, Oxford Innovation, a leading operator of innovation centres, it has completed the purchase of the business development operation of Fasset, a specialist operator of regional technology parks.
The acquisition is intended to position Oxford Innovation to expand its innovation centre portfolio into a national network. Fasset has decided to focus on growing its core business of facilities management for technology and business parks.
As well as providing premises and business support through innovation centres, Oxford Innovation assists early stage technology businesses to raise finance through its three business angel investment networks. The company also runs regional innovation advisory programmes including a £9 million programme designed to boost the growth of start-ups and mid-sized firms in the south west.
The deal will see a team of senior managers from Fasset, specialising in business development activity for new centres, join Oxford Innovation. Several innovation and business centres will transfer from Fasset management to become part of the Oxford Innovation portfolio, which will increase to 14 centres housing over 400 start-up and growing companies in locations from Portsmouth to Yorkshire.
Chris Allington, formerly managing director for business development at Fasset, becomes managing director of the Oxford Innovation Centres business and a member of SQW Group’s executive board. Matt Harrington joins as commercial director and Dianne Heath joins as programme manager. All three will work closely with an expanded centre management group to grow the Oxford Innovation Centres business.
The centres to be managed by Oxford Innovation in future include Portsmouth Technopole, the landmark building at the gateway to the City of Portsmouth. The Technopole has been managed by Fasset on behalf of owner, Portsmouth Technopole Ltd, for eleven months and occupancy levels have increased to 82%. The centre management team at the Technopole will also transfer to Oxford Innovation.
Ian Laing, the Oxford-based property entrepreneur and SQW Group chairman, said: “The SQW Group Board is delighted with the completion of this agreement which had the unanimous backing of all parties involved. It will position Oxford Innovation to scale up its existing network of innovation and enterprise centres while also developing this successful business platform to include business centres and managed workspace in future.”
Chris Green, chief executive officer of SQW Group, said: “I am confident that Chris Allington will prove to be an outstanding managing director of the Oxford Innovation Centres business division and we look forward to welcoming him and his team. The Fasset approach of developing innovation and managed business space that deliver commercial returns through close engagement with the economic development agenda is an excellent fit for Oxford Innovation.”
Chris Allington, incoming managing director of Oxford Innovation Centres, said: “Whilst I am sad to leave Fasset, I am also very excited by this opportunity to realise the substantial growth potential of the innovation centres network. The team at Oxford Innovation has developed an impressive portfolio of innovation centres and a strong brand. It is a privilege to have been asked to lead the combined organisation and to grow the Oxford Innovation Centres business into a national network.”
Fasset and Oxford Innovation will continue to collaborate on specific projects where Fasset will provide specialist support in facilities and construction management services to Oxford Innovation.
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