The Marlowe Innovation Centre in Ramsgate has celebrated its tenth anniversary.
A reception to mark the occasion was held at the site, within the Royal Harbour Academy grounds, yesterday *September 10).
Since opening the site has had more than 170 different tenants, helping to create and sustain over 300 jobs. Others have taken advantage of “virtual office” services. The success of the centre led to the addition of an extension in 2014, doubling its capacity.
The site is run by FFMA (Trading) Ltd, the trading arm of the charity, Friends of Folkestone Academy. It pays a market rent and all its profits to the parent charity.
The first phase of the building cost £1.67 million and was built with cash from the European Regional Development Fund (£584,360), Kent County Council (£500,000), The Roger De Haan Charitable Trust (£468,720), Thanet District Council (£100,000) and East Kent Partnership (£20,000).
The second phase, costing just under £1 million, was funded by a further contribution from The Roger De Haan Charitable Trust of £649,488, with the balance of £349,724 coming from the government’s Coastal Communities Fund.
The centre was designed to offer affordable accommodation to businesses on easy-in, easy-out terms. A wide range of accommodation is available, with short term license agreements that offer flexibility, particularly to new businesses.
Tenants also have the option to move to different sized workspaces in the building depending on their circumstances. There is free parking on site and tenants have access to the building 24 hours a day. Wi-fi broadband is available via a dedicated 200 Mb fibre cable at the building.
Accommodation ranges from light industrial units, that can also be used as large offices for around ten people, to smaller offices that accommodate up to five people. The centre also has meeting rooms, a networking café, an atrium area that is useful for breakout sessions, receptions or exhibitions, two accessible washrooms and a wheelchair accessible lift to reach the first floor.
As well as on-site tenants, there are 39 virtual tenants, using services such as a mailing address to full telephone support, booking appointments and taking payments.
MIC Centre manager Jennifer Harris said: “Since the Marlowe Innovation Centre was opened by HRH the Duke of Kent in September 2008, we have accommodated a wide range of businesses, many of them start-ups. We are proud to have played a role in encouraging the growth many of our tenants have enjoyed, with many of them going on to seek larger premises elsewhere.”
MIC has also enjoyed a close relationship with the Royal Harbour Academy and its predecessor school, the Marlowe Academy, with hundreds of students having taken part in joint activities over the years. Collaboration has included work placements, mock interviews, tuition in CV writing and mentoring.