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Plus X and U+I complete first innovation hub in Brighton aimed at supporting businesses and sparking local economic activity

14.07.20

  • Designed by architect Studio Egret West, Plus X Brighton is the first in a national network of new purpose-built innovation hubs

  • Plus X is aimed at helping business and communities prosper through growth and innovation support, curated collaboration, inspiring work space and state-of-the-art prototyping workshops and media studios

  • Plus X will generate as much 160x more social and economic value than that of a traditional office building, helping to catalyse local regeneration

  • The innovation hub is the first building to complete within U+I’s Preston Barracks development, one of Brighton’s largest ever regeneration schemes

Plus X and regeneration specialist U+I have launched Plus X Brighton, the first of what will become a national network of purpose-built innovation hubs designed to support the next generation of businesses building Britain’s new economy.

Designed by architect Studio Egret West, Plus X Brighton is a seven-storey, 53,000 sq ft purpose-built innovation hub that has been designed to support companies of all sizes. It is the first building to complete within U+I’s Preston Barracks development, one of Brighton’s largest ever regeneration schemes, and will act as a driver of economic activity at the development, helping to increase footfall, create a sense of community, and attract further occupiers. The wider scheme will establish the Lewes Road area as a thriving new academic and economic corridor in Brighton, creating over 1,500 jobs and delivering 369 new homes and 534 student bedrooms, as well as a new home for the University of Brighton Business School.

As well as inspiring work space, meeting rooms, outdoor networking and event spaces, Plus X Brighton provides state-of-the-art facilities with leading technology and equipment to enable members to develop concepts and create first batch product prototypes. These include precision CNC milling machines, laser cutters, UX test suites, electronics laboratory, image, video and podcast studios to cater for members like Lucy Hughes, the winner of the international James Dyson Award for her biodegradable solution to single use plastic.

Co-CEOs, Paul Rostas and Mat Hunter co-founded and jointly lead the Plus X business, which was launched in 2019 in partnership with U+I. Plus X innovation hubs transform areas, adding vibrancy and productivity, helping businesses scale with innovation support while unlocking partnership potential with global corporations, education partners and local communities. Plus X innovation hubs are designed to create impact at both a global business and local economic level.

Designed to be one of the healthiest work spaces in the country, Plus X Brighton is on track to join a handful of international buildings to be accredited Platinum standard by the WELL Building Institute, a global marker of building design focused on wellbeing, which has become a key benchmark for major global occupiers. The building is also highly sustainable and has been designed to achieve BREEAM Excellent and an EPC B Rating. It is also the first work space in Brighton & Hove to have achieve a Platinum WiredScore Certification, meaning it offers the best digital connectivity in the city.

The building features Brighton’s first rooftop terrace, designed to enhance biodiversity, with edible plants and herbs. Work spaces are flooded with natural light from large windows, supporting the circadian rhythm and improving people’s sleep-wake cycles. Air quality is monitored for such things as CO2, dust and humidity and adjusted to meet WELL standards.

As studies have proven, when surrounded by plants, people’s happiness, focus and productivity improves. Plus X has a ‘biophilia strategy’ incorporating plenty of greenery allowing people to enjoy the benefits of nature both inside and out. The building has also been designed to feature green electricity, with solar panels, as well as a zero to landfill policy, locally sourcing produce in its café, and using only eco cleaning products.

Paul Rostas, Co-CEO of Plus X, said:

“The transition from start-up to scale-up is a difficult journey, particularly in these challenging times with business recovery so vital right now. Our Plus X Brighton innovation hub has been designed to help businesses overcome these hurdles by equipping them with the tools and support they need to unlock their potential and drive growth and innovation. Brighton is home to an incredibly rich pool of talent and ranks as one of the UK’s best locations to study and start a business. We’re delighted it is the home of our first Plus X innovation hub and the location for BRITE, our major innovation programme for businesses in this region”.

Richard Upton, Chief Development Officer at U+I, said:

“As well as providing the support that Britain’s new generation of entrepreneurs, start-ups, scale-ups and innovators need to grow and thrive, the Plus X model works to catalyse economic activity within large-scale brownfield developments, creating a magnet that attracts people and businesses into a new area. This is so important as the nation moves forward after the COVID-19 pandemic, as we must now work even harder, and more creatively, to stimulate economic activity. Plus X Brighton is the first building to complete at our Preston Barracks development, helping to create a sense of place and sparking activity at what is one of Brighton’s largest ever regeneration schemes, all the while supporting the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs who are remaking the UK’s economy.”

Lucas Lawrence, Director, Studio Egret West, said:

“The wellbeing of place and people has been fundamental to the design of Plus X Brighton, and is embodied in the building’s ambition to enhance the experience of all those that use it. The building achieves the accolades of Wellbeing Platinum, BREEAM Excellent and Wired Platinum, introducing a new grade of workplace to Brighton. Most importantly, it feels great to be there. Plus X Brighton is bright and open, yet also intimate and welcoming, and this dual ambition of offering high quality functional spaces while also creating the ambience to promote creativity and interaction has been key to our design approach. As architects, landscape architects and interior designers for the building, as well as urban designers for the wider site, we have been delighted to help both U+I and Plus X realise their transformation of Preston Barracks.’

A catalyst for the Plus X model is the Central Research Laboratory (CRL), a proof of concept innovation hub currently housed at The Old Vinyl Factory, U+I’s  large-scale regeneration scheme in Hayes, West London, once home to Thorn EMI’s headquarters and a hub for early British engineering innovation.

Soon to evolve to Plus X Powerhouse, an innovation hub three times its current size and scope, CRL has already supported more than 100 technology and hardware businesses, with the creation of 100+ jobs and over £10m investment raised.

A study commissioned for Plus X undertaken by economic consultant Real Worth, assessed the economic and social impact of CRL and concluded that the Plus X innovation hub model creates as much as 160 times more social and economic value as that of a traditional office and 16x that of a mainstream co-working space.

With the successful launch of Plus X Brighton, a national network of Plus X innovation hubs will launch across the UK over the next five years. Plus X is working with U+I to unlock further opportunities within its large-scale brownfield regeneration projects. Plus X is also actively pursuing opportunities within schemes promoted by other developers, local authorities and public sector organisations, in order to bring its unique business innovation and local economic support formula to different parts of the country.

To coincide with the launch of Plus X Brighton, a new three-year business growth and innovation programme will be unveiled. BRITE (Brighton Research Innovation Technology Exchange) in partnership with the University of Brighton will bring £10.5m worth of support to hundreds of businesses in the Sussex region. The BRITE programme is funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) via the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and U+I.

BRITE businesses will occupy two floors of dedicated space at Plus X Brighton with access to an impressive range of research and development facilities, including high spec machinery, equipment and expertise, with specialist design teams to assist with prototype build and new product development.

The BRITE programme will also give members access to the University of Brighton’s unique, dynamic and impact focused innovation tools and programmes, developed by the University’s Centre for Change, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management (CENTRUM).

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