University of Reading’s innovative Innovation Catalyst centre – based in Shinfield – scoops top honour

IT HAS innovation written all the way through it like a stick of rock and now judges have agreed: the new Shinfield-based Innovation Catalyst at Thames Valley Science Park won the Business Park Innovation Award earlier this month.

The honour was presented a team from the new venture at the Thames Valley Property Awards, held at Ascot Racecourse on Thursday May 2. They were hosted by broadcaster and former England rugby union player Martin Bayfield.

The awards aim to showcase the region’s very best properties, firms and people and more than 650 guests were present to celebrate success.

Chris Reeve, managing director of Thames Valley Science Park, told the awards: “We identified a gap in the market in terms of delivering genuinely supportive business space for laboratories and innovation companies.

“New and spin-out businesses, in particular, often need nurturing to grow.”

The vision for the University of Reading-owned Thames Valley Science Park is to capitalise on the strengths of the Thames Valley with a much-needed anchor for innovation.

The 70,000 sq ft Gateway building, the first on the Park to open, has attracted ground-breaking companies researching and delivering cutting-edge new products and services.

Elsewhere, attracting start-ups with disruptive ideas through to global corporates, sets apart the Science Park from traditional business parks designed primarily for larger companies, which are more self-contained.

And part of this drive towards innovation, Innovation Catalyst has a dedicated business incubator space and is a collaboration between Thames Valley Science Park, VitalSix, specialists in advising growing businesses, Henley Business School and Barclays Eagle Labs.

The incubator and a 65 desk co-workspace in the Gateway are integral to the comprehensive offer to innovators to encourage collaboration and facilitate the commercialisation of new ideas.

As part of this, the team at Innovation Catalyst will tonight launch a new networking event that aims to bring together the Thames Valley’s Big Data/Machine Learning/AI community to create a forum for education and collaboration.

Organisers hope that expertise will be shared, new technologies explored, insights provided, and collaborations made to drive value for the Thames Valley economy and participants.

Speakers will include guests from Oracle, the University of Reading, and from IBM.

This is the sixth year that the awards have taken place, and the event raised £12,500 Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Service, which supports children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions, and their families.

Wokingham-based law firm Herrington Carmichael also won at the awards, scooping the property law firm honour.

Tim Haresty told The Business Magazine: “We’re delighted to win, especially was we were up against such good firms.

“We had a record year with a lot of big residential deals and a lot of activity in our secured lending service.”

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