The operators of a new £8million innovation centre in Darlington have revealed plans to use the facility to inspire a new generation of innovative businesses in the town.

The North East BIC has announced it will run a programme of events and expert support when it opens the doors of Innovation Central on Central Park in October.

Featuring monthly physical events and one-to-one advice sessions, the Innovation Programme will not only be available to tenants onsite but will also be extended to businesses across the town in a move to ignite the innovative potential of the entire borough.

“The development of Innovation Central is about more than simply creating new commercial space,” said the BIC’s CEO Paul McEldon.

“It’s about creating the creative, collaborative and supportive environment where today’s innovators can truly thrive.

“Darlington has long been a centre of ingenuity and its entrepreneurial spirit will soon have an exciting new central focus in the town.”

When putting together the Innovation Programme, the BIC will draw on its 28-year experience of economic development in the North East. It already operates Business Central, also on the Central Park development, as well as business parks in Sunderland and Washington and has created over 7,000 regional jobs since 1994.

Building work by Darlington Borough Council is now well under way on the four-storey Innovation Central, which forms a key component in the town’s Central Park development. Sitting alongside residential, educational and other commercial developments, it will be at the heart of the vibrant new community stretching over a 30-hectare site.

Built to meet BREEAM sustainability credentials, Innovation Central will feature 45 Grade A offices and five labs, all designed as flexible spaces where businesses can grow.

Workspace will be available to all sectors, with office sizes ranging from 174 – 630 sqft and lab sizes from 410 – 743 sqft.

This project is jointly funded by Darlington Borough Council, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), £3.55million from the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority, and the Government’s Getting Building Fund.

Vanessa Wood, Centre Manager at Business Central, said: “Darlington is buzzing with entrepreneurial potential right now, with the planned move of the Treasury putting us in the headlines again, and we have first-hand experience of the incredible demand for quality space for ambitious businesses.

“So, we’re really excited to see Innovation Central coming to life and to start imagining how the two neighbouring facilities can work together as one collaborative business community.

“The idea is to connect the sites as much as possible, with tenants of Innovation Central sharing all of our brilliant facilities including our gym and micro spa.

The two centres are just a few minutes’ walk from one another so tenants can easily go between and make the most of everything we have to offer.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Innovation Central will be yet another string to the bow for Central Park and our world-leading life sciences sector. We invested £3.5million to make this project a reality and unlock even more opportunities for our innovative local businesses and create the good-quality, well-paid jobs of the future.

“It’s brilliant to hear that the North East BIC will be running an Innovation Programme and regular events so that the facility’s impact can be felt by businesses right across the town and light the entrepreneurial spirit we already know is there, from innovative start-ups to high growth potential businesses.”