Image: Incremental Group
Today (11 August) marks the first anniversary of companies moving into the Tontine, an innovation centre in Glasgow that supports the growth of companies in the enabling technology, advanced design and manufacturing, and creative economy sectors.
The Tontine was the first Glasgow City Region City Deal project to open in Glasgow, and has been a huge success, with office and desk capacity already at 90% after the first year.
The Tontine was set the target of supporting and sustaining young companies with 5-10 employees in high-tech, high-growth sectors, and creating 536 new jobs through the support of 134 companies by 2021. It is expected to generate £53.6million for the economy of the Glasgow city region through its status as a space for companies to grow in a supported environment.
The Tontine hosts high-quality and flexible workspaces for these companies, with a focus on those sectors which link with the city's universities - to maximise cross-fertilisation between growing companies in the city and major multi-nationals and research programmes situated close by. These spaces include breakout booths; networking and meeting areas; office and desk spaces; all of which are very attractive to both new and established organisations in these sectors.
Some of the companies located at the Tontine include Ambiental, City Fibre, Code Clan, DRJN, Incremental Group, GenAnalytics and Kite Power Systems.
Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council and chair of the Glasgow City Region City Deal Cabinet, said: “I am delighted by the ongoing success of The Tontine, creating high-quality jobs and growth in these key sectors of Glasgow’s current and future economy. The performance in the first year is even better than expected, showing how effective this type of supportive environment for growing businesses is. The Tontine is undoubtedly a great success story for the Glasgow City Region City Deal, and is poised to play a key role in the city’s economic growth over the next four years.”
Councillor Iain Nicolson, Leader of Renfrewshire Council and holder of the Enterprise portfolio for the Glasgow City Region City Deal, said: “The Tontine is a fantastic facility providing the perfect environment for innovative organisations from across a range of sectors to grow and develop. I am pleased to see how far it has come in such a short space and time and am sure its continued progress will be of benefit to the entire Glasgow City region. Through the City Deal we are committed to developing the infrastructure and making connections across communities which generates jobs and bolsters economic growth.”
Neil Logan, CEO of Incremental Group, said: “Tontine has played an important role in helping us create Incremental Group. When we first arrived a year ago we were three people with a vision to build a different type of digital services company. Today we employ almost 50 people across two sites with more than a dozen based here at Tontine. Tontine has provided us with a first class office in the heart of the Merchant City that has flexed to meet our requirements every step of the way. We have got to know many of the other businesses located here, have worked closely with the Glasgow City Council and Scottish Enterprise teams and have even managed to give a few talks to students at CodeClan. It’s been a fantastic year for us as a business and the team at Tontine have been a big part of that.”
Dr Jillian Ney, Digital Behavioural Scientist, said: “At DRJN we were remote workers before moving into Tontine, and we’ve now found that having a physical space where we can all be together and mixed in with like-minded businesses has increased our productivity and we’re working as a more coherent group. The events space at Tontine is also amazing, and we’re looking forward to running a series of events there from September.”
By 2021, it is envisaged that 134 businesses will be supported at The Tontine, with each expected to increase their staff numbers by at least four per business. This will result in the creation of 536 new jobs resulting in an increased turnover of £53.6m over the term of the programme.
The Tontine is a five year project, led by Glasgow City Council and delivered with support from the other Glasgow city region local authorities, Business Gateway and Scottish Enterprise.
The building housing the Tontine was once the home of the workshop of legendary Scottish inventor James Watt. The Glasgow City Region City Deal will deliver 20 infrastructure schemes – bringing a forecast 43,000 jobs during and after construction – but will also, as in projects such as The Tontine, use innovation to deliver economic growth in Glasgow and surrounding areas.
Both the UK and Scottish Governments will give the Glasgow and Clyde Valley local authorities £500million in grant funding towards the projects of this City Deal, and the eight local authorities will borrow a further £130million to use for capital investment. This City Deal is expected to unlock £3.3billion of private sector investment.
The eight local authorities participating in the Glasgow City Region City Deal are: East Dunbartonshire Council; East Renfrewshire Council; Glasgow City Council; Inverclyde Council; North Lanarkshire Council; Renfrewshire Council; South Lanarkshire Council and West Dunbartonshire Council.
Since opening Tontine has held 25 open events with a total of 950 attendees. These include the Scotland Data Science & Technology meet-up, held every two months attracting 60-80 attendees and the Censis, Internet of Things meet up (also held every two months) attracting 50-70 attendees.
In Partnership with the University of Glasgow, Tontine hosts at monthly breakfast meeting, The Gaitherin’. This brings together businesses and academia to foster relationships and an exchange of knowledge.
Tontine is a partner in The Scottish Space Incubator along with The Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications (SoXSA), a programme targeted at space companies with large growth potential. Supported by a UK Space Agency grant, the programme will support six companies for an incubation period of one year. Two companies, Craft Prospect and Global Surface Intelligence, have already been selected and are now working in Tontine. Throughout the incubation period, the companies will benefit from superb accommodation, unparalleled business support and access to a wide business network through SoXSA.
CodeClan expanded its operation into Tontine in January 2017, offering software development courses through its digital skills academy. Currently, 90% of CodeClan’s graduates land their first job in Scotland’s tech sector within six months, with 50% securing a job within six weeks of finishing the intensive course. The academy is well on its way to placing 350 graduates in employment by the end of 2017 between its Glasgow and Edinburgh campuses. CodeClan makes the hiring process easier for employers by providing them with exclusive access to its students as they progress through the course; this includes introducing a skills pipeline into the Businesses in Tontine.
Incremental Group, a digital technology specialist, were one of the first companies to operate from Tontine, taking tenancy in August 2016. The company started with three employees, quickly rising to 16 (within Tontine) and within the next three years the company expects to achieve 180 employees with annual revenues approaching £20m across the UK. They plan to recruit multi-skilled digital technologists including Software Engineers, Data Scientists, Infrastructure Engineers and Project Managers.
At the end of 2016 they announced financial backing from Maven Capital Partners and the Scottish Investment Bank. The company chose to locate in Glasgow to take advantage of the skilled talent pool developing there while helping to grow the cluster of digital economy companies in the area and raise their ambition. Incremental has also successfully secured £500,000 of Regional Selective Assistance (RSA).
Exmos, CodeClan and Incremental Group, all based in Tontine, were nominated for The Digital Technology Awards in 2017. The Awards are a great arena for informal networking and attracting key players from across the industry. It reveals the latest advances in digital technologies and rewards excellence. CodeClan went on to win Best education provider or training programme 2017.