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Work gets under way at city’s new digital hub

Jackie Doyle (left), Director of Digital & Entrepreneurship at ONE, and Michael Boniface, Head of ONE CodeBase, at the Schoolhill site which is being transformed into a tech hub to grow the North East digital economy.
Jackie Doyle (left), Director of Digital & Entrepreneurship at ONE, and Michael Boniface, Head of ONE CodeBase, at the Schoolhill site which is being transformed into a tech hub to grow the North East digital economy.

Work has started on a £1.5 million digital and entrepreneurship “hub” in the heart of Aberdeen.

Robert Gordon University (RGU)’s old administration building, on Schoolhill, is being transformed through a project led by Opportunity North East (One), the private sector economic development body backed by Sir Ian Wood, in partnership with CodeBase – the UK’s largest technology start-up incubator – and RGU.

Refurbishment work is under way and the new One Digital & Entrepreneurship Hub is on track to open in spring 2019.

It will provide a mix of hot-desking, co-working and office space for digitally focused businesses.

One teamed up with CodeBase earlier this year in a new partnership devoted to driving forward the growth of digital technology businesses in the north-east.

Michael Boniface was brought in to head up the new joint venture, One CodeBase. He explained its ambitions at an event in Aberdeen last week.

Mr Boniface said: “We aimto build a collaborative community of companies and individuals sharing the experience of starting, growing and scaling digital tech businesses.

“The proven CodeBase model brings together ambitious entrepreneurs, world-class tech talent and top investors, in a creative, peer group environment with hands-on mentorship, networking and world-class business support.

“Having helped companies grow to scale in Edinburgh, we are now applying this approach in North-East Scotland to help businesses transform and scale.”

One CodeBase has started identifying and assessing prospective tenants who would benefit from specialised support at its new Aberdeen facility.

Gordon McConnell of RGU said: “The new space forms part of our ambitious vision to drive digital and entrepreneurship activities in the north-east, providing a focal point for digital entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators.”

Sir Ian hopes hub will help increase digital tech business

Opportunity North East (One) was launched by oil and gas veteran Sir Ian Wood in December 2015 in response to pressing economic challenges.

Backed by an initial £29m of Wood Foundation cash, the initiative aims to keep the oil and gas flowing for as long as possible, while also boosting other sectors in an attempt to create a better balanced economy.

The foundation later ploughed another £33m into One, with its investments intended as a catalyst for other funding.
One’s digital and entrepreneurship arm was created in August 2017, becoming the fifth sector board alongside those for energy, life sciences, tourism and food, drink & agriculture.

Sir Ian is chairman of both One and its digital and entrepreneurship sector board.

Welcoming the start of work on the One Digital & Entrepreneurship Hub, he said: “One aims to accelerate the growth of early stage and established digital tech businesses, help the region’s key industries embrace transformational digital solutions to improve productivity, and enhance the entrepreneurial environment to support company creation and scale-up.

“The tech hub on Schoolhill will provide a dedicated environment for the region’s digital community to collaborate and grow alongside bespoke support.
“Our digital ambition and commitment to build the tech community and company cluster will contribute to the goal of long-term economic diversification.”

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