Looking for workspace?

The problem:

In April 2016 Oxford Innovation were selected by Belfast City Council as the operator of a flagship 55,000 ft2 Innovation Centre in the north west of the city located in an iconic renovated textile factory, Mackie International. The centre, now branded the Innovation Factory (IF), opened in September 2016. The key project objectives included community engagement & social regeneration, job creation and the provision of programmes to support business growth & innovation, whilst achieving financial sustainability targets. 

The problem:

In April 2016 Oxford Innovation were selected by Belfast City Council as the operator of a flagship 55,000 ft2 Innovation Centre in the north west of the city located in an iconic renovated textile factory, Mackie International. The centre, now branded the Innovation Factory (IF), opened in September 2016. The key project objectives included community engagement & social regeneration, job creation and the provision of programmes to support business growth & innovation, whilst achieving financial sustainability targets. 

Our objectives

  • The promotion of the social and economic regeneration of the Springfield and Shankill Road areas and surrounding locality and of this brownfield site, providing employment opportunities and acting as a catalyst for further development in the area.
  • Provide a boost to the immediate local economy through increased business activity acting as a catalyst for employment opportunities whilst achieveing financial sustainability targets.
  • Development of programs to support business growth and & innovation for customers within the centre and the surrounding area.

Our Impact

Operation

During its mobilisation phase, Oxford Innovation assisted in the design, business and operational plan of the centre, as well as supporting their funding application for several £million from Invest Northern Ireland (INI) to support the capital costs for the centre. Once the centre opened in October 2016, Oxford Innovation completed the internal fit-out of the centre and began to cultivate a business community within IF.

Community Engagement

Since the mobilisation stage of the project, we have worked closely with management consultancy firm Full Circle, and our own Community Engagement Officer to integrate IF into the local business community, ensuring engagement through outreach projects within Belfast and the surrounding areas. Furthermore, we engaged with wide range of partners and stakeholders including different departments in BCC, Invest NI, Belfast Met, UU and Queens University, Chamber of Commerce, the NI Science Park and local enterprise agencies and community organisations in our efforts to build an entrepreneurial “eco-system” at IF.

 

We see effective social integration as redressing balance and changing attitudes which involves a broad range of interactions, partnerships and collaboration with numerous stakeholders. Below are some examples of recent initiatives:

  • Engagement with over 60 key stakeholders
  • 35 local businesses attended an IF Meet the Buyer Event
  • 50 school children attended a Cross-Community Christmas Goodwill Event
  • 20 long-term unemployed individuals attended an interview master class
  • We have introduced two part-time employment placements at IF
  • A “Buy-Local” Policy has been implemented
  • A “Shop-Local” Procurement Policy has been implemented
  • Social benefit clauses have been implemented in to all IF policies
  • A local supplier directory has been created
  • A quick payment system for local suppliers has been implemented
  • Event held highlighting the history of the Mackie’s Factory, attended by previous workers of the factory, its previous owner and the major of Belfast.

Business Support

Business Innovation and growth services were developed and rolled out at IF, designed to support businesses from the pre-start and start-up phases, through to established businesses wishing to develop product and service offerings, grow and eventually graduate from the support environment of IF. Business support continues to be delivered by the in-house Innovation Director and accessible to both IF customers and those not based at the centre on an outreach basis.

Interested in finding out more?

CONTACT US