Latest building at Exeter Science Park named after Moretonhampstead genius

Laura White
Laura White
The George Parker Bidder building © Exeter Science Park

Exeter Science Park’s new £5m centre for maturing STEMM (science, technology, engineering, maths and medical) businesses opened its doors in January, 2022, providing bespoke laboratory and office space for 100 jobs.

The first tenants to move into the 14,000 square foot George Parker Bidder building, which is built to net zero carbon standards, will cross the road from the Science Park Centre to embark on the next stage of their business growth.

They include Concept First, Remit Zero, Securious, Edson Tiger, Rx-info and Dashboard, their move freeing up space in the hub for STEMM start-ups.

The new building, just off J29 of the M5, is named after civil engineer and mathematical prodigy George Parker Bidder, who was born in Moretonhampstead on the edge of Dartmoor in 1806 and became President of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

A ‘rags to riches’ story, Bidder is best known for his work on the development of the railway system in the 1800s. He becomes the latest STEMM icon, alongside Sir Isaac Newton, Alan Turing, Ada Lovelace, and Hedy Lamarr, to lend their names to the centres of excellence at the Park.

Dr Sally Basker, CEO of Exeter Science Park, said: “This net-zero carbon building has been the fastest turnaround of any building scheme undertaken at the Park, achieving practical completion just 16 months after funding
was secured.

‘We’re pleased to see the building already 85% pre-let, including a number of businesses moving across from the Science Park Centre, and we already have demand to back-fill their offices.

‘Exeter Science Park helps innovative STEMM companies to deliver extraordinary growth and offers space for businesses to remain at the Park through each stage of their lifecycle, which is being realised as we see tenants grow and move through our buildings.”

Funding for the build was secured in August 2020 from the Government’s ‘Getting Building Fund’ and allocated to Exeter Science Park by the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP) from its £35.4m share of the national pot. The building was one of the first Getting Building Fund projects to begin construction in the area.

The Getting Building Fund is investing in shovel-ready infrastructure projects to create jobs and support economic recovery across the country. Projects funded include:

• regeneration of town and city centres;
• green infrastructure and clean energy;
• transport and digital connectivity improvements;
• unlocking of housing and business sites;
• support for SMEs and learners.

The successful projects (over 300) are expected to deliver up to 85,000 jobs, over 1,500,000sqm of commercial floor space, unlocking 45,000 homes, almost 1,000,000sqm of public realm or green space improved or created, over 50,000 new learners assisted, and 65m kgs of CO2 emissions saved. All projects have been selected by Local Enterprise Partnerships and Mayoral Combined Authorities in each area and endorsed by the Housing Secretary.

Karl Tucker, Chair of the HotSW LEP, said: “With Exeter forecast to see significant continued employment growth through 2022, the Heart of the South West was delighted to allocate £5m of Government funding to Exeter Science Park for the construction of the new George Parker Bidder building. This exciting development will provide high-quality office space for 100 jobs in the growing science, technology, engineering, maths and medical sectors.

‘The building was developed as part of the Government’s ‘Getting Building Fund’, and is designed to boost the local economy by providing jobs and a stepping stone for maturing businesses from the Science Park Centre contributing to our area’s prosperity and post-COVID-19 recovery.”

Minister for Levelling Up Neil O’Brien MP said: “This state-of-the-art science centre has been backed by £5m of Government funding and will support businesses, create new jobs and help Exeter prosper.

‘As we level up communities up and down the country, we will continue to invest in ambitious local projects like Exeter Science Park, which provide opportunity, boost local economies and help communities build back better from the pandemic.”

Exeter Science Park Limited is the Park developer and has four shareholders: Devon County Council, the University of Exeter, East Devon District Council and Exeter City Council.

Its two strategic partners are the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership and the Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone. For more information about Exeter Science Park, visit www.exetersciencepark.co.uk.

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