Innovation Birmingham, the taxpayer-owned science park which supports start-up and growing tech and digital companies, is to be bought by private property group Bruntwood.
The campus, which sits next to Aston University on the edge of the city centre, comprises three office buildings – Faraday Wharf, iCentrum and the Universities Centre – and is owned by Birmingham City Council.
It has office accommodation for start-up and small companies and runs programmes such as Entrepreneurs for the Future and Serendip Smart City Incubator which help to grow business ideas and small companies access information, mentoring and industry expertise.
Innovation Birmingham has supported more than 260 businesses, created over 500 jobs and raised more than £18 million in equity finance since 2009.
The deal, which is recommended by Birmingham City Council’s cabinet but is still being finalised, has been announced this afternoon at MIPIM, the annual international property conference in France.
The value of the deal has not been disclosed at this stage and it is unclear how the city council is planning to use the funds generated by the sale.
This deal is the latest sell off by the authority which offloaded the NEC Group for £307 million in 2015 to LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group.
Birmingham City Council leader Coun Ian Ward said: “This potential investment in Innovation Birmingham is crucial for the continuing success of the region’s tech and digital businesses.
“I am confident that, when finalised, it will generate huge benefits for the city’s thriving and diverse digital sector, helping to create hundreds of jobs, build businesses and drive growth in the city region as innovative tech firms are given relevant support to realise their growth potential.
“Partnerships between academia and business are essential for the growth of any city or region and students, early stage entrepreneurs and innovators need a place, often close to seats of learning, to incubate and collaborate.”
Innovation Birmingham’s chief executive David Hardman will continue in the post once the deal is completed.
He said: “Innovation Birmingham has moved a long way in the last nine years but we have reached a point where we need to scale.
“We have three buildings, these buildings are full, we have more than 140 businesses, we have a thriving community of people who visit here but, if we are really going to make a difference to the Birmingham economy, we have to scale and to do that we need external investment.”
Family-owned Bruntwood already owns science parks and incubation hubs in the North West and Leeds and runs several office buildings in Birmingham city centre including Mclaren in Priory Queensway and Cornerblock in Cornwell Street.
Chief executive Chris Oglesby added: “Our upcoming acquisition of Innovation Birmingham forms a key strategic component of our wider science and technology business and enables us to share knowledge and expertise across these sectors.
“We understand the importance of engaging with key partners, acknowledging that what we can do together would be so much greater than we could ever hope to do on our own.”
Advisers on the deal for Birmingham City Council are KPMG and Gowling with Addleshaw Goddard acting for Bruntwood.