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Manchester Metropolitan University - Innospace



Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) Business School has established a facility to assist both graduates and non graduates in developing their business ideas to help create sustainable new

businesses in the heart of Manchester. It is managed by the Innospace management team.


The 900 square metres of space has been completely renovated within MMU's listed Minshull Building on Chorlton Street in Central Manchester. Previously the building, which is a grade-2 listed 1840s wharfside granary, was home to the University Library.


Opened in September 2007.


Case Study tags: manchester metropolitan university, learning spaces, business start-up, north-west england, business and community engagement (bce), refurbishmenthigher education




As part of MMU's vision for 2020, the University established Innospace to be the place where enterprising staff and students come to set up their businesses. The aim is to remove the barriers to enterprise, giving entrepreneurs the best possible chance of success. That's why Innospace is open to people of any age, who graduated at any time from other universities, as long as they have a great business idea and are committed to seeing it through.


MMU also wants to maximize its contribution to the North West economy through fostering entrepreneurialism in the region and retaining graduate talent.


The space has senior management support; so much so that the Dean of the Business School helped paint the walls!


Innospace was originally managed by the Centre for Enterprise, an initiative launched in March 2001 that 'leads on the creation and transfer of knowledge to develop enterprise and entrepreneurship capability'. The Centre for Enterprise is part of Manchester Metropolitan University's Business School.


Innospace is now a University wide initiative and managed by a dedicated Innospace Management Team.


What is it?


Innospace is MMU's enterprise flagship, aiming to enable graduates to start profitable and sustainable businesses.

Clients get a 1 year licence which grants them access to the space, desks, broadband (wired or wifi), PCs, meeting rooms, social space and access to over 130 other start-up businesses.


The main area is open-plan with plenty of locker and cupboard space available to rent. There are lots of informal seating areas around the space and a kitchen with networking area, 'Start up café', - with free tea and coffee.

The downstairs space has more structured office type space although much of it is partitioned using semi-permanent clickable partitions. Some money is being invested in the downstairs space to update floor and wall coverings. The refurbished space is to include a photo wall of clients and businesses. Some space is also being completely refurbished to be repurposed as office space for rental, opening up further income opportunities.

There are 2 meeting rooms available, seating between 2 and 60 people, which are available free of charge to all members. These meeting rooms are available to rent by external parties.


Innospace is well served by local public transport links, it's a 5 minutes walk from Piccadilly Train Station, Piccadilly Gardens Bus Station and Chorlton Street Bus Station. Parking is not available on site but there are a number of car parks in the surrounding area and the Innospace team are organising bike storage facilities.


What happens in the space?


The Incubator provides a range of resources for nascent entrepreneurs.


The area is open between 7am-8.45pm Monday-Thursday, 7am-6.30pm Friday and 10am-3.30pm on Saturday. Entry is via an electronic key fob.


The space supports a community of over 130 start-up businesses. Innospace provides expert help and advice from a small office team working in partnership with a number of other organisations.


Innospace supports a number of activities designed to assist new businesses. This includes access to free business advice with professional mentoring, networking sessions, seminars, master classes and social events to get to know other tenants. The admin team facilitates networking by introducing new tenants to other businesses where there may be a link up.


The space nurtures a success-oriented environment - a winning combination of 'can-do' entrepreneurial spirit and energy.


A hot-desking policy operates which means that clients are not always guaranteed the same desk, although it is possible to hire designated desks for an additional fee.


The prestigious M1 postcode address is very important for the start-up businesses and a pigeonhole system is used to allocate post to each company for collection (it can also be posted to a home or other address for a fee).

The staff offer regular business progression and evaluation sessions to support their clients and ensure that their plans are on track and that they are making the most of the services offered.


Consultancy services are provided by MBA/undergraduate students as well as by the Innospace community. Tenants within the space also share knowledge and interact with each other.


The Business Boffins course is available for tenants to register, this formal course provides all information from the basics of getting a business started to year two and three cash flows.




Funding Sources


Funding at the beginning of the project included £100K from the European Regional Development Fund with additional support from MMU. The aim is to be self-funded by using rent to cover costs.


Innospace costs £495 including VAT for the first year and £995 for the second and third year.


MMU undergraduates are charged a discounted rate of £175.


Facilities can also be rented by staff on an individual basis: Fob Access (per staff member) = £50 fee + £10 deposit;


Staff IT connectivity - £6 pcm (1 staff member connects for free).

Rent a desk = £90 +VAT per month.

Cupboard Hire = £150 per annum, Locker = Free, Filing Cabinet Hire = £75 per annum.

Phone Line = £60 per annum (plus call costs).

Large Space hire = £100 per half day event.

Colour printing/photocopying = 5p per sheet. Black and White printing = free.

Meeting rooms = free.

Access to wi-fi = free for tenants, £6 for staff.

Faxing (sending/receiving) = free.

Locker (if available) = free.

Note: costs taken at October 2010.


After the second year, Innospace provides follow-on office space for businesses to grow into.




What technology is being used and how is it being used?


The space is fully wireless throughout with lots of power sockets built into columns and walls.

PCs are provided at the hot desks - neat RM models that don't take up too much space.


The large meeting space has built in projector and additional Audio-Visual equipment can be hired out to the tenants. Also there is a screen and projector in the main space with a white wall for projection as well as a stand-alone projector tenants can borrow.


The telephone system allows clients to log in at any phone in Innospace using a username and password, when they are not available to answer or log in to a phone, the call is directed to their personal voicemail which can be accessed from any phone anywhere in the world.


How does the technology add value?


Using the technology clients are kept informed of networking sessions, seminars, master classes and social events. Clients also use the technology for networking and utilising each other's services.


Because clients may have other commitments; the technology allows them to work from home (or abroad) when necessary.


Top Tips


Innospace has found the best approach to re-developing IT or the space is to work with the tenant businesses and include their input. The businesses themselves know their needs and requirements and working with them creates a better working relationship and culture. Innospace is currently looking at refurbishing the building and developing the current hot desking area. The Innospace Management team and an architect tenant business are coordinating this project.


Contact Details


Richard Deighton, Director of Innospace
Emma Ward, Operations Manager
Afia Khatun, Administrator


Email Innospace


Address: Innospace, 2nd Floor, Minshull House, Chorlton Street, Manchester, M1 3FY


Innospace website


Partner Organisations


Manchester Metropolitan University


The Centre for Enterprise leads on the creation and transfer of knowledge to develop enterprise and entrepreneurship capability.


Blue Orchid Consulting Ltd specialises in helping clients to raise productivity, increase profits and secure steady growth.


Business Link is a free business advice and support service, available online and through local advisers.


Business Support Solutions focuses on supporting individuals & businesses to achieve their full potential through a comprehensive range of services.


Manchester University Entrepreneurs is a student organisation part of University of Manchester Students' Union, UK's largest Students' Union. We are here to build future business and community leaders through environmental sustainable leadership practices.


Manchester Metropolitan University Business School (MMUBS) has been supporting industry and commerce in the city since 1889.


NESTA is the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts - an independent body with a mission to make the UK more innovative.


The North West Regional Development Agency, managing the economic development and regeneration of the region; promoting business efficiency, inward investment and competitiveness.


The Prince's Trust Enterprise Programme supports unemployed young people aged 18-30 to work out if their business ideas are viable and whether self-employment is right for them.


UnLtd is a charity which supports social entrepreneurs - people with vision, drive, commitment and passion who want to change the world for the better. UnLtd does this by providing a complete package of funding and support, to help these individuals make their ideas a reality.


Case study written January 2010.