Newcastle office block to become major innovation centre after being bought by Chinese investors

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A major Chinese company that invests around £570m a year into R&D is setting up an innovation centre in Newcastle to help forge links between Chinese and UK businesses.

TusPark – which runs a number of science parks in China and also has sites in Hong Kong, the US, South Korea and Russia – is in the process of buying Maybrook House on Grainger Street in order to set up the company’s first innovation centre in the region.

Once the deal is completed, the firm is planning to occupy the first two floors of the site where it will focus on strengthening links between UK and Chinese companies.

Should the innovation centre prove successful, TusPark is also considering acquiring a second site at Newcastle’s Science Central in order to boost its presence in the North East.

The facilities at Maybrook House will include meeting rooms, presentation areas, and teleconference equipment so meeting can be held with those in China.

Northumbria University business professor Yu Xiong, who is working as the project’s principal advisor, said: “The reason we told them to have a business here in the North East is because I feel we have the Northern Powerhouse, we have easy access to Scotland, and we have good industries, such as healthcare, creative industries and many others.”

Maybrook House currently has a number of corporate tenants but Prof Xiong said TusPark would not be looking to remove them from the office space. However, he added that as the centre expanded it would look to occupy the rest of the 4,000sq m office, after tenants vacated.

TusPark operates an international network of science parks, incubator projects and business enterprises from over 160 locations. The company, which originally started as the science park for Tsinghua University, also spends more than RMB5bn (£570m) on R&D annually.

The innovation centre is designed to provide funding and collaboration for firms working in subsea technology, life sciences, healthcare and creative industries. TusPark will provide will operate its own fund but will also promote joint ventures with Chinese businesses.

Businesses who become part of the TusPark network will be able to visit the company’s 40 other parks across China. The centre will also help promote the North East by providing facilities in the UK that can be used by Chinese businesses.

Prof Xiong added: “Once a local business is connected to the science park here, they will be connected to the 40 parks in China and the can visit these centres.”

TusPark will be looking to develop companies that can assist in the creation of the One Belt, One Road project – major infrastructure network of road and rail routes and oil and gas pipelines that will span 65 Eurasian countries.

The project has been backed by the Chinese government, which has created a $40bn fund to promote private investment along the route.

By JONATHON MANNING
ChronicleLive

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