Sights on Southampton
Southampton Science Park was delighted to welcome innovation professionals from across the UK in its role as host of the UK Science Park Association’s Spring Conference in March.
Over the two-day event, delegates heard a wide variety of presentations including from keynote speaker, The Rt Hon Caroline Nokes, Member of Parliament for Romsey and Southampton North, who shared amusing reflections on STEM education and provoked thoughts around the role of science parks in encouraging female entrepreneurship.
Other sessions included: innovation-led towns and cities as well as low-density locations; sustainability solutions; and university research and knowledge exchange. The topic of ‘how innovation locations can best support entrepreneurs’ journeys’ created an interesting panel discussion, while two entrepreneurs offered first-hand insight in this respect. Eleanore Kelly, founder of start-up Rihde, presented a candid account of starting her own business and the amazing support she received through the Catalyst Programme, and Adam Kingdon shared his experience of scaling his business, Utonomy (another former Catalyst company).
Southampton Science Park CEO Robin Chave told the story of the Science Park’s 40-year history as it has adapted to evolving technologies and business needs, leading it to become the South Coast’s principal centre of technology commercialisation. He went on to say that, while the Park itself is on a continual journey, he recognises that resident companies are too. The team here removes barriers to their growth by enabling companies of all sizes to scale accommodation in line with their development, from starting out in shared incubation space to building bespoke regional headquarters.
Delegates also had the opportunity to see how the Park has evolved during a tour that took in the conservation area, as well as accommodation in Venture Road (phase 1 begun in 1983), Enterprise Road and Greek Letter buildings (phase 2) and Benham Campus (phase 3) before being introduced to phase 4: the soon to be opened Engineering Centre, with its specialist spaces created for a Future Towns Innovation Hub and a Collaboration Zone where academia and business will work together.
Conference networking dinner provided the usual opportunity for the community to share experiences and thoughts on the innovation sector and forge new connections.
Presentations from the event can be found here.