Nottingham’s ‘Father of Fintech’ says city’s scale-up strengths could drive a Silicon Valley of the Midlands

Date posted: April 13, 2021
the scale space front entrance

Midlands Engine Chairman Sir John Peace, who played a central role in the development of one of Nottingham’s key digital industries says the city has the potential to develop into a Silicon Valley of the Midlands.

Sir John was part of the team whose work transferring paper credit records onto computer databases in the 1970s led to the birth of the business which later became Experian, a global leader in information services.

Speaking at the launch of Scale Space Nottingham, a new destination for scale-up businesses which mixes workspace with access to specialist expertise in innovation and business growth, Sir John said:

Nottingham is an ideal location for an initiative like Scale Space and its launch here is timely. At a time of change, the region needs to work harder to promote its strengths – its national significance in life sciences and a strength in tech which could be developed into a Silicon Valley of the Midlands.

It makes sense to cluster like-minded people and businesses, and to help them grow by levering the knowledge capital of Nottingham’s two excellent universities. This ecosystem is going to become critically important as the impact of the pandemic plays out.

Initiatives which bring those elements together are therefore particularly important because they can be a source of growth and competitive advantage. From a Midlands Engine perspective, I, therefore, view this as a fantastic opportunity.

Scale Space was launched last year in White City, west London, in a partnership between Blenheim Chalcot, the UK’s leading venture builder, and Imperial College London, a global top 10 university specialising in science, technology, engineering, medicine and business.

It combines flexible workspace suited to innovative scale-up businesses with a portfolio of membership benefits built around access to ideas and expertise.

Nottingham is home to the first regional Scale Space on Wollaton Street, a move which CEO Mark Sanders says reflects the fact that the city has a vibrant cluster of businesses built around data, technology and analysis.

He told the launch event:

Whilst the UK is third globally for start-ups, it’s outside the top 10 for scaling them up into SME growth businesses. Scale Space offers an environment which is tailored to overcome that problem by creating a community with access to the people, the services and the space to help innovation thrive.

It does this by bringing innovation expertise from businesses and academia together, encouraging learning from both applied research and commercial enterprise. We now want to work with stakeholders across the city to bring the right support and benefits to businesses that have the capacity to grow, create jobs and boost the economy.

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