ETTC BioSpace was opened in 2005 after a grant from Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothians funded the refit of an aging lab facility on the King’s Buildings campus. It had become apparent prior to that, that there was an increasing demand from nascent spin-out and start-up companies for lab space. The Schools of Biological Sciences and Chemistry were emerging hotbeds of entrepreneurial activity, yet there was, until ETTC BioSpace opened, no where for those companies to set up and develop.
By committing to ETTC BioSpace, the University gave a major vote of confidence to life-sciences, chemistry and biomedical entrepreneurs – despite the inherent challenges faced by nascent companies in those fields. As a result, companies in those fields may now emerge from the University’s research labs with the confidence that there is a purpose-built facility in which they can be house, and bespoke incubation services which will support, nurture and facilitate their development and growth.
ETTC BioSpace’s technology focus is relatively broad – life-sciences, chemistry and biomedicine. As such, the functionality of the laboratory space offered is generic. ETTC BioSpace offers laboratories of between 200 square feet and 550 square feet, furnished for teams of between two and six scientists. Each laboratory is furnished with benching, shelving and a sink. The concourse of the laboratory area provides the necessary hand-washing facilities. A cold room and common autoclave (for decontamination) is also provided.
ETTC BioSpace’s offices are in an immediately adjacent area and are of between 100 square feet and 300 square feet in size, furnished for teams of between two and five. ETTC BioSpace also has a meeting room – with a capacity of eight people – is on-site, though ETTC BioSpace incubatees have access to ETTC’s meeting rooms. In the office area, there is a common general office and kitchen.
The deal structure for all of the Edinburgh Technology Transfer Centre’s occupants is identical. As far as is possible, the provision of services is made free-of-charge – or at least included in the rent charge. Surcharges are applied to a very limited number of provisions – some scientific services, autoclave usage, telephone usage, electricity usage, fax usage and photocopier usage. All of these items are charged on at cost. Use of the meeting rooms, connection to the University’s high-speed JANET data network and, perhaps most importantly, the provision of business development services are all part of the basic package covered by the rent charge.
The Edinburgh Technology Transfer Centre’s rent charge structure takes its context from the University’s Company Creation and Development Strategy. Three bands of rent charges have been established – typically reflecting the number of years an incubatee has been an ETTC BioSpace occupant. Early-stage rent charges are kept low – allowing incubatees to focus limited resources on core activities. The top rent charge band reflects the rent charges for similar premises at one of the University’s science parks.