26 February 2018

Work is set to begin to transform a landmark Sheffield building into a thriving innovation hub for the city region’s fast-growing creative and digital sector.

A £3m funding deal between Sheffield City Council and leading regeneration company U+I has been completed, paving the way for the creation of a digital incubator to be opened at Castle House, the Grade II-listed 1960s former Co-op department store at Castlegate.

It is expected that the refurbishment of the building and the fit-out of new facility at Castle House will be complete and ready for occupation in early 2019.

U+I, which owns the building, has appointed Sheffield-based Kollider Projects as the delivery partner for the new facility, which will offer co-working facilities and a range of business support services.

Richard Upton, Deputy CEO of U+I said: “We are delighted to have completed this deal and look forward to working with our partners to creating an vibrant, collaborative and economically important destination at Castle House.

“Partnerships with local councils when properly constructed can deliver real benefit and value to local communities and the business which work in them. I am convinced the refurbishment of Castle House will be a catalyst for the wider regeneration of Castlegate.”

Launch of the Kollider Project in the former Co-op Building at Castle House in Sheffield City Centre John Mothersole, Mazher Iqbal, Guy Illingworth, Nick Morgan and Steve Pette in the old boardroom
Launch of the Kollider Project in the former Co-op Building at Castle House in Sheffield City Centre
John Mothersole, Mazher Iqbal, Guy Illingworth, Nick Morgan and Steve Pette in the old boardroom

Nick Morgan of Kollider Projects added: “Our focus is on delivering a home for an already dynamic community, encouraging innovation and stimulating business growth in the city region. We are passionate about building a true destination for Sheffield at Castle House, an engaging space and a community beacon where bright ideas are brought to life and business thrives.”

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Business and Investment added: “We’re delighted to announce U+I and Kollider as the developer and operator of this exciting digital and tech facility. We Sheffielders know that the city is equipped for digital and creative industries and this funding will help it to unlock those skills and develop them for the future.

“It is pleasing that this development will take part in the historic Old Town of the city, redefining it for the future and helping this world-leading and innovate sector to expand and grow. Big changes are happening at Castlegate and it is now home to hotels, offices, artists studios and now a digital hub. I’d like to welcome U+I and Kollider and wish them every success.”

Margot James MP, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, said: “We are determined to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business, and this new tech hub will give Sheffield’s cutting-edge creative and digital businesses a fantastic space to collaborate and innovate.

Launch of the Kollider Project in the former Co-op Building at Castle House in Sheffield City Centre The old board room
Launch of the Kollider Project in the former Co-op Building at Castle House in Sheffield City Centre
The old board room

“We want to see the whole country benefit from the digital economy and our funding will not only boost the city’s thriving tech scene but also provide opportunities for firms right across the Northern Powerhouse.”

Sheffield City Council was granted more than £3m funding by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in 2015 to establish a new facility providing work space, business

incubation and other services for entrepreneurs and small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) who rely on digital technologies and their applications.

Following a competitive process the bulk of this funding has been awarded to the Castle House project.

Sheffield has an ambitious and ever-expanding digital tech sector with more than 18,000 companies across the city region and generating more than £1.3 billion in sales.

The sector also saw an impressive 27 per cent growth between 2011 and 2015 with much of this from new starts who are increasingly viewing Sheffield, with its combination of facilities, networks and support organisations, as the ideal place to start and grow a technology business.

The funding made available to set up the Digital Business Incubator will only serve to  accelerate the growth of the sector as it enhances the offer available in the city. The new incubator will provide valuable facilities and hopefully launch the next generation of successful tech businesses in the city.

The Castle House hub is one of a series of innovative projects for Castlegate including the planned archaeological dig of the historic castle remains, linked to the proposed ‘People’s Pier’ and the extension of the Grey to Green Corridor all planned to commence this year.

The funding builds on the success of the Exchange Place Studios, fully let to over 80 ‘makers’ and will contribute to the Council’s aim to change Castlegate’s image and attract new uses to the area – particularly creative and digital businesses and activities. It will also bring a prominent well-loved and distinctive listed building back into use.

The scheme has taken longer than anticipated due to complex government protocols when giving public sector money to a private company.

As a condition of making the capital funding available to the project, DCMS requested the Council should act as the Accountable Body for the grant as part of a Funding Agreement with the delivery organisation.

The consortium’s business case indicated that there is a demand and currently no existing or prospective incubator facilities providing business advice, investment, support and services to the businesses and people this project targets.

 For further information please contact Chris Barry on 07464 547297 or Laurie Harvey at Sheffield City Council on 0114 2053546.