Cathedral Group have confirmed that their £7.7m allocation from the LEP’s Growing Places Fund to support the Central Research Laboratory project at the Old Vinyl Factory in Hayes will no longer be required.
The facility for entrepreneurs providing technical, infrastructure and business support, which recently hosted Place West London’s 2015 Manufacturing Summit, will still form a central part of Cathedral Group’s plan for the former EMI’s headquarters.
In 2013 Cathedral Group made an application to the LEP’s Growing Places Fund in order to bring forward a job creating centre for product design start-ups in Hayes. It was part of Cathedral’s vision for returning high-growth, modern manufacturing businesses to The Old Vinyl Factory and public sector support was considered essential.
John O’Reilly, Finance Director for Cathedral Group said: “There was little or no prospect of securing private sector investment for a project of this kind, and the GLA and LEP’s willingness to share our vision, and a portion of the risk in bringing the project forward was key to enabling us to bring it forwards.”
Since then, Cathedral Group and partners including Brunel University London have invested significant time, energy and resource in researching and developing the CRL model and will be launching a pilot programme on the site from September 2015. The Pilot programme will welcome the CRL’s first 10 start-up businesses to The Old Vinyl Factory. The start-ups will be provided with a range of support, including high-spec prototyping equipment, expert mentoring, tailored workspace and access to investment. In short, all the key elements of the original CRL proposal will be present.
Cathedral Group’s John O’Reilly continued: “The private sector funding market has changed significantly, as the country has come out of recession and banks and funds have started to lend again. As a result, the options open to us in making the CRL a reality are now much more diverse. A number of private sector financing options are available and these can still enable us to achieve our initial vision for the CRL in Hayes. That is to say, a large scale campus for manufacturing start-ups, where physical products can be taken from concept to commercial reality”.
Cathedral Group have therefore decided to proceed with establishing the CRL in line with their original vision for the project, but without the need for the proposed investment from the LEP.