The story of Lincoln’s declining south west industrial quarter is being rewritten, and the man in charge of filling its pages is sitting on the brink of a chain reaction of innovation. Tom Blount, Director of Lincolnshire’s first science and innovation park, is not only predicting a county-wide industrial renaissance, but is also creating a sustainable supply chain for the wider Lincolnshire economy.
This feature interview was first published in issue 23 of the Lincolnshire Business weekly magazine, now available to read at www.lincsbusiness.co. Subscribe to the email newsletter to receive the latest edition in your inbox this Friday.
For the first director of the £50 million Lincoln Science and Innovation Park (LSIP), bringing a 10-20 year masterplan to fruition, creating a pool of skilled university graduates and working to provide local businesses with a creative, stimulating hub from which to innovate, is all in a day’s work.
“On a basic level, I’m running a site which has, up until this point, been relatively run down,” explained Tom. “So we’re having to bring the whole site up to not only good enough, but world class standards.
“Lincoln is a really fascinating marketplace. It’s one that has perhaps not seen the booms of the rest of the county, but nor has it been as badly affected by the downs as some other places, and I think that’s a testament to the strength of the engineering and manufacturing companies that are here. It’s one however that hasn’t really kept up with the investment that’s been going on in the rest of England for the last couple of decades. This meant there was a huge opportunity for creating the kind of infrastructure that businesses need to grow.”
The project is based on an 11-acre site off Tritton Road which shares a history of plant and turbine development and has claim as the home of the original tank before WWI. It was founded by partners Lincolnshire Co-op and the University of Lincoln, who initially invested £14 million. Work began on the site in August 2013, and Tom started in post in February 2014 with a brief to drive forward the city’s scientific and industrial legacy.
“The fact that the Co-op and the university were presenting a first director of the science park with a blank canvas in many ways was incredibly exciting, and remains incredibly exciting. We’re very fortunate in that we have an already developed building here with the Think Tank, and we had the university as our anchor tenant going into the next step, the Joseph Banks Laboratories. It meant that from the moment we opened our doors we were already a profit making business.”