Creation of New ‘Innovation Space’: University of Portsmouth, Halpern House

Project Details


The University has worked alongside many local businesses to develop product concepts and business ideas. There are many local businesses which are looking to locate near the University, to have benefit from the skill and knowledge base which is part of the University academic community.

This project will create a collaborative environment to which established businesses could relocate in order to work alongside new businesses emerging from the University of Portsmouth, particularly in the creative Industries and advanced manufacturing sectors, to accelerate innovation and create employment.

This project will build on the successful collaborative bid, Cell Block Enterprise, with the Historic Dockyard for RGF 2 (Regional Growth Fund) in 2011. Through the refurbishment of empty dockyard buildings, this idea suggested incubation space for start-ups in the creative industries that were mentored by the University of Portsmouth to be based in the Dockyard, thereby building relationships between the Dockyard, the business community and the University and increasing graduate retention in the City.

This proposal is to develop a type of ‘Open Innovation’ space within the University.

“Open innovation is a paradigm that assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as the firms look to advance their technology” or "Innovating with partners by sharing risk and sharing reward".

The boundaries between a firm and its environment have become more permeable; allowing innovations to easily transfer inward and outward.

Chesbrough, H.W. (2003). Open Innovation: The new imperative for creating and profiting from technology. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, p. xxi

The concept of ‘Open Innovation’ co-locates individuals in an innovative and creative environment. It invites external businesses into University buildings, as paying tenants.

The proximity of business with academics, research staff and post graduate students creates synergies and innovation through the flow of ideas and the sharing of resources. The physical space is organised in a way that provides shared areas for discussion and development of ideas across businesses and University research staff, but also separate and confidential areas for business product development.

‘Open Innovation’ units are being developed across creative cities internationally to take advantage of a University’s potential to stimulate a new type of commercial environment. Typically these spaces are physically distinctive, located in key areas within a city and have a high degree of flexibility providing stimulating and flexible working environments for clusters of high-tech businesses. A key aspect of this proposal is to develop an in house R&D facility provided by a University research team to support the SMEs with shared areas for events, discussion and innovation, thereby creating an environment that encourages innovation and experimentation.

Other University facilities could also be available to the occupants of the unit. These could include research resources and specialised equipment to meet their specific needs including rapid prototyping and manufacture equipment, composites and nanotechnology production and digital media applications including motion capture, augmented reality and visualisation suites in facilities nearby.

Businesses that would thrive in this environment would be ambitious ‘start-ups’ seeking to establish a more diverse product portfolio and international partnerships and markets through the support of the Solent LEP, or inward investments seeking to gain entry to the UK, for example in the creative industries, where access to an understanding of European cultures and tastes are key to successful product development. Support from the University will be available to all tenants through not only technical R&D but also through business development and coaching, executive MBAs, tailored CPD and ‘work based learning programmes’ or access to University interns to supplement their workforce.

The proposal is that this new “Innovation Space“ is housed initially in Halpern House, an existing office and facilities building in the University estate. It will require some initial limited internal re-planning, however the concept for this environment could be located in any suitable University building, a central physical location is the key issue for its success.

Essentially this needs to be managed as a serviced office facility, to allow flexibility to the incoming tenants. The tenants may wish to occupy a small office space or a whole floor and the plan for the building can respond to that. Halpern House offers currently approximately 570 m2 over 4 floors.

The front entrance will require some important design consideration as this will be the threshold and welcome space, it will suggest to visitors that there is a perception of a confident commercial working environment.

It is suggested that the space could contain:

Academic staff who work in the commercial environment, in particular this would suit the Institute of Industrial Research (IIR) from CCi or other such academic units, that wish to co-locate with businesses. The IIR have expressions of interests from businesses partners who would be interested to co-locate with them in a suitable environment.

Commercial tenants: who wish to work alongside academic staff to build new partnerships and benefit from co-location with University staff.

‘Incubation’ or start up businesses that are emerging from the University (from undergraduate and post graduate students) and would benefit from the expertise of academic staff and mentoring possibilities of the commercial companies.

This co-location of established businesses, academic staff, start up businesses and PhD students could be a unique offer, with opportunities for all stakeholders. Specifically it will create a common space that could be used for seminars, presentations, evening events that encourage CPD, and also short courses to run in an environment that straddles a commercial and academic space. These courses would relate to the broader business community as well as the start up businesses and encourage cross funding initiatives and research possibilities between academic staff and commercial organisations.

The Open Innovation Academic Team (OIAT) would be an embedded team of University staff and research students. They will be led by an academic leader of Professor or Reader level, supported by research and post graduate students. The academic staff could be located together for long term or short term projects. They will provide the interface between business and current applied research best practice. This team will be a mix of University secondments and specifically recruited staff who will work to develop initiatives across the new businesses locating in the ‘Open Innovation’ space. The PhD students will be allocated to the businesses to develop and transfer innovation in design, technology and business management. The businesses will also be assisted by staff of the Open Innovation Unit to commission CPD, business development advice, business mentoring and guided in accessing other funding streams such as KTP to stimulate new investment.
Short titleArchitectural Design and Construction Project
Effective start/end date3/12/125/04/13


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