Growing with the flow: the reborn Tamar Science Park
TAMAR Science Park has seen a surge in occupancy and is even considering constructing new buildings for tenants.
It is a strong recovery for the Derriford-based park which suffered a decline in tenants, imposed a rent freeze and binned plans for further office construction, during the height of recession.
Today, the 25-acre park, which underwent a management shake-up during the past 18 months, is enjoying an 80 per cent occupancy rate, with a strong pipeline of potential tenants, including firms based outside Plymouth, showing interest.
And tenant businesses are growing and demanding space.“We have the challenge of finding grow-on space for a number of tenants,” said director of operations Christian Jenkins. “That’s leading us to a potential new build.”
Mr Jenkins is part of the new regime at TSP, having arrived in February from leading London technology recruiter Harvey Nash plc.
Andy Burroughs joined last year as business development director from Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust, where he had fulfilled a similar role. And other directors have come in too, since Simon Chamberlain became chairman in 2011.
“It’s brought a more commercial focus,” said Mr Burroughs. “We can accommodate client needs but we are not a charity.”
In fact, TSP is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee.
Mr Jenkins added: “We have to generate a surplus to reinvest, but have no shareholders.”
Today, the park has 69 businesses, employing 680 people and generating nearly £100million in revenue. It is 80 per cent occupied, with its high-quality office space performing well.
Hailey Cattle, head of marketing services, said the last time occupancy was higher than that was before the most recent building, Phase 4, was completed in 2008.
“And Phase 4 is now 90 per cent occupied,” she said. “The past two years have been a positive phase, we have increased occupancy periodically.”
Typical TSP firms are “targeted and sector-specific” SMEs with 10 to 15 employees, occupying 1,000sq ft to 2,000sq ft of space.
“And they are companies that are growing,” said Miss Cattle.
Growth areas include health care, cloud-based platforms, and other computing. But, of course, there is a churn and former park tenants include Bluestone360, Goss, and ADG.
“But we have some that come back,” said Miss Cattle. And when firms look to leave it can be seen as a “measure of success”, because they have grown.
“We are a good barometer of business confidence,” said Mr Jenkins. “Very few tenants go out of business.
“We are also knocking walls down to create bigger offices.
“And we have a good pipeline, including interesting businesses from outside Plymouth, looking to move here or set up a branch here.”
Mr Burroughs added: “We can’t be complacent but the picture is positive.”