THE University of Leeds is exploring opportunities with potential partners and collaborators to develop Nexus, its new innovation hub.
Based inside a new £40m building on the university campus, Nexus includes office and lab space, along with meeting and events facilities.
Dr Martin Stow, the director of Nexus, said the development was now 47 per cent full, a month before its official opening. Nexus aims to serve as a gateway for business leaders of the future, who want to access the university’s academic expertise.
The building is expected to be full by the end of the year. Mr Stow said the talks with external partners formed part of the university’s wider strategy, providing businesses with easy access to its knowledge, expertise and facilities. This, alongside tailored support, will accelerate business growth and maximise commercial returns, Mr Stow said.
He said: “We’ve had a number of conversations with interested partners, as a result of the successes we have already achieved here at Nexus.
“There are exciting opportunities for us to collaborate with partners and reach more businesses who can capitalise on the support offered by the university.
“This will further bolster the contribution the university has made for the benefit of the greater region.”
He added: “We select companies we feel we can help grow in the future and align with the strengths of the university.
“We’ve been staggered by the amount of interest we have had and the types of companies we have attracted.”
He said it was also important to provide a “landing spot” in the city region for companies when they have outgrown Nexus.
“We are having a number of conversations with various players..Where are the appropriate grow on spaces for us and for the region as a whole?
“I see that as a critical part of what we are doing here. “
“A lot of the companies that are contacting us are from different sectors and from different locations as well.”
Between 65 and 70 companies and around 500 people, including some of the university’s research and innovation team, are expected to be based in Nexus when it is full, Mr Stow said.
The companies that have already decided to establish a base in Nexus include Thought Beanie, which uses brainwave monitoring technology that allows you to track what’s going on inside your brain.
Thought Beanie, which was established by Alyn Morgan and Simon Harrison in 2015, has moved to Leeds from Bristol.
Mr Morgan said there were lots of communal areas in Nexus where his team could meet other business leaders who were facing similar challenges.
“We’re in a building where people are doing exciting things,’’ he added.
Thought Beanie, which is working with partners to develop applications in areas such as sport and construction, will be launching its first consumer product later this year.
Other businesses that have decided to take up space in Nexus, include Vet AI, a research and development company that aims to revolutionise the pet healthcare industry.
Paul Hallett, the co-founder of Vet-AI, believes the veterinary industry must use technology to enhance animal welfare.