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The Humber Local Enterprise’s (LEP) Board has agreed to allocate almost £1.3m in funding to the @TheDock tech campus in Hull’s Fruit Market.

The contribution, confirmed at the LEP Board meeting on Friday, July 12, is funded by the Government’s Local Growth Fund, as part of their commitment to the Northern Powerhouse.

The @TheDock development has the C4DI tech hub as its centrepiece. Completed in 2015, C4DI is one of three tech hubs planned for the area. The funding agreed will see the development of another block, with the development of a third block subject to an application for European funding.

The new block will provide Grade A office space with ultra-fast gigabit fibre connections aimed at satisfying the demand for the expanding C4DI and Hull’s digital and tech sector.

It will include expanded flexible office space ready for more established firms to move on or expand, which will free-up space in the existing block for more start-up firms to move into.

Developer Wykeland are also set to commit around £4m in funding to complete the project. Once finished, the development could create 156 new jobs and will provide an additional 1,858 sqm of floorspace for the tech and digital sector.

C4DI, the Centre for Digital Innovation, supports the development of the digital and tech sector in Hull. The facility is a privately run technology incubator – that helps tech companies grow, and traditional businesses innovate. It also provides a ‘digital community’, providing support and networking opportunities for both established and growing companies.

The facility provides the links and connections between the tech specialists and small medium enterprises (SMEs) looking to launch start up ideas. It also provides a portal, connecting these with big enterprises that need assistance in adapting and maintaining their competitive edge as commerce becomes increasingly digital.

A Tech Nation report in 2018 identified that within the Hull cluster, jobs in digital technology increased by 15% between 2014 and 2017, with over 7000 individuals employed and digital technology businesses turning over around £568m.

Chair of the Humber LEP, Lord Haskins, said: “The digital and technology sector is a hugely important part of the business landscape both in Hull and across the wider Humber region.

“The region’s digital and tech sector is an enabler of our region’s future growth, as noted in our Humber Industrial Strategy proposals, which will play an important part in the Humber’s role as an international gateway. It is therefore extremely important to ensure we are building on existing measures to provide support for the region’s digital firms.

“We are delighted to allocate this funding and support C4DI to expand, enabling more digital and technology start-up firms, while offering even more space for established SMEs to expand and grow.”

Wykeland Managing Director Dominic Gibbons said: “This is very good news for the exciting development of Hull as a digital centre of excellence. It also demonstrates Hull’s significance as a leading driver of the tech economy within the Northern Powerhouse.

“The @TheDock tech campus has provided a flagship and focal point for the region’s previously disparate digital community. It has been the catalyst for the creation of scores of new digital businesses and hundreds of highly-skilled jobs, as well as playing a key part of the regeneration of the Fruit Market.

“This funding will build on this success and support the expansion of @TheDock to meet pent-up demand from tech companies for space to grow, collaborate and innovate.”

John Connolly, Managing Director of C4DI, said: “The next stage of the @TheDock development will accelerate further our work helping tech companies grow and traditional businesses innovate.

“The TechNation report has highlighted the strength of the local digital sector and highlighted the region as the most cost-effective place in the country to run a tech company, thanks in part to the fantastic fibre broadband and amazing facilities available to us.

“The expansion of the @TheDock tech campus will provide the space and infrastructure to support more start-ups, encourage more businesses to relocate to the region and support the ever-growing digital needs of traditional businesses so they, in turn, become more profitable and have a greater economic impact.”

Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, Jake Berry MP, said: “This government is committed to boosting economic growth across the whole of the Northern Powerhouse and building an economy which is fit for the future.

“Backed by £1.3m of the Government’s Local Growth Fund, this further development of C4DI’s existing hub in Hull’s Fruit Market will provide space for Hull’s growing digital and technology sector to expand further and faster by proving a new base for established firms and start-ups alike.”