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Oxford’s new eco-friendly hub for science and tech businesses

The newly-opened, state-of-the-art Wood Centre for Innovation (WCFI) has a prime selection of flexible office and lab space, impressive meeting and conference facilities as well as a dedicated package of support for local science and tech businesses. Not only that, it has great environmental credentials, is located at the heart of the city’s health and data sciences quarter, and attracts a vibrant community of like-minded start-up and grown-on businesses.

With more and more small businesses adopting sustainability practices, WCFI is hoping to attract more clients who have sustainability high on their agenda.

Wood Centre for Innovation - Headington, Oxford - Office space, Meeting rooms, Conference space and Business support for early stage science and tech companies.

Wood Centre for Innovation - Headington, Oxford - Office space, Meeting rooms, Conference space and Business support for early stage science and tech companies.

Set in 15 acres of picturesque woodland at Stansfeld Park in Headington, the two-storey innovation centre has strong green credentials. Orientated east-west, the building maximises beneficial solar gain and protects against unwanted solar gain with an over-hanging roof that provides solar shading. Not only that, there is 30kW solar array of photovoltaic panels on the south-facing roof that helps to power the building, and there are air-source heat pumps that provide energy for the underfloor heating.

The materials used for the build have been sourced locally where possible, including the British poplar that clads the exterior. In fact, WCFI is the biggest building in the UK that’s clad in heat-treated timber. The centre is also big on wildflowers with its green roof and mixed planting all around the centre that creates a wonderful display during the summer months.

Together the eco-friendly measures at the new centre provide the perfect platform for businesses to promote their green credentials.

The viewing deck at the Wood Centre for Innovation looking out into the surrounding woodland and ponds.

The viewing deck at the Wood Centre for Innovation looking out into the surrounding woodland and ponds.

Professor Jose Maria Pena, co-founder and CTO of Lurtis, an artificial intelligence research company resident at the centre, said: “The practical location and stunning surroundings immediately attracted us to WCFI. We are currently working on developing technology for an architectural firm, so it has been excellent for us to promote our services from a base consistent with eco-friendly measures.”

Owners of the building, The Oxford Trust has been environmentally conscious throughout the building process, and working with Oxford Innovation, who manage the centre, are starting to rollout a green transport initiative. Users of the facilities at Stansfeld Park are encouraged to cycle, walk or use public transport. The centre has also installed a number of electric car charging points and cycle racks.

Professor Pena added: “All of our staff walk or cycle to work, so having an office which supports this was important to us on a practical level. We’re located right in the heart of a woodland, so the surrounding area is stunning and something always noticed by our clients. It’s also great to enjoy a walk and during the busy day.”

Wood Centre for Innovation customer Jose Maria Pena, CEO of Lurtis.

Located on Quarry Road in Headington, the centre is close to the city’s fast-growing health and data sciences quarter, centred on the University of Oxford’s Old Road campus, clinical research facilities at the local hospitals and Oxford Brookes University. It is also close to major road and rail links.

Part of WCFI’s attraction is the vibrant community of science and tech start-ups based there but also at its partner centre – the Oxford Centre for Innovation, or OCFI – in the centre of town. Clients include medical product design and development consultancy firm, Triteq, and Ultromics, a business that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to build diagnostic aids for cardiovascular diseases. Others include Sportside, the developers of an all-encompassing app and web-based communication platform.

Those at OCFI range from audio specialists, healthcare researchers and environmental data analysts and anything in-between.

Both centres are run by Oxford Innovation, the UK’s leading operator of innovation centres that provide office, laboratory, workshop and meeting space throughout the UK. The company also provides innovation services to entrepreneurs, including business-planning advice, fund raising, coaching and mentoring.

WCFI’s Commercial Manager, Kelly Carter, supports businesses on their journey and helps them overcome challenges to success. She also helps to link up clients with the Oxford Innovation network of Innovation Directors that offers practical support and advice.

As Kelly says: “The wants and needs of our clients are taken seriously by the team. When you become part of the Wood Centre for Innovation, you’ll gain lots of support you didn’t even know you needed. Our team is well connected within Oxford’s science and technology sectors, so businesses will have the kind of support you just won’t get anywhere else.”

As part of the support package offered to clients, WCFI hosts a programme of sector-specific and business-building workshops throughout the year. These sessions are open to all customers and are included as part of the licence fee.

The Wood Centre for Innovation (WCFI) and the Oxford Centre for Innovation (OCFI) are both owned by The Oxford Trust; an independent charitable trust founded in 1985 by entrepreneurs Sir Martin and Lady Audrey Wood. The Trust’s mission is to encourage the pursuit of science and enterprise. Through their innovation centres, the Trust has enabled hundreds of innovative companies to begin, develop and grow, including Mirada Medical, Perspectum Diagnostics, Natural Motion and Oxford Computer Consultants.

The Trust’s sustainable business model means that income from WCFI and OCFI is reinvested in the Science Oxford Centre at Stansfeld Park and their Science Oxford education and engagement programmes. The strength of the Trust’s business model is that it supports both ends of the innovation ecosystem, from inspiring young children about the wonders of science to helping start-ups develop and grow.

Black Lemon Cafe at the Wood Centre for Innovation keeps our customers going through-out the day with freshly prepared breakfast, lunch and snacks.

Could you see your business at the centre? The Wood Centre for Innovation currently has a number of offices and lab space available, ranging from 384 sq ft and 1048 sq ft, for growing companies that work in the science and technology sectors.

If you are interested in space at the centre, email wcfi@oxin.co.uk or call 01865 945 500 to arrange a tour.

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