22 November 2021 – Willmott Dixon has been selected by Somerset County Council to deliver a £11m Digital Innovation Centre at Firepool, Taunton. 

Procured using the SCAPE’s construction framework, it will play a key role in Somerset County Council’s plans for the post Covid-19 recovery and transformation of the local economy, providing high-quality managed offices and workspace for home-grown start-ups and small and medium sized enterprises, while attracting new businesses and inward investment.   

The 2,613 square-metre building will feature office, workshop, collaboration and meeting space over four storeys, as well as innovation support services targeted at digital economy businesses.  The project is funded by the county, the Government’s Getting Building Fund and the European Regional Development Fund, with further contributions from Somerset’s Business Rates Retention Fund and Somerset West and Taunton Council. 

Cllr David Hall, responsible for economic development, planning and community infrastructure at County Hall, said: “This scheme will help meet the demand for top-quality business accommodation for digital businesses in Somerset. It will see a number of highly-skilled jobs created and contribute to improving economic productivity and prosperity in Somerset.”

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Karl Tucker, chairman of Heart of the SW Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It’s great to see work starting on the Digital Innovation Centre on the Firepool site, which will provide fantastic high-grade workspace for local tech-based businesses and dedicated innovation support to help them grow. 

“We’re delighted to have been able to support this project from the HotSW LEP’s Getting Building Fund.” 

Cllr Marcus Kravis, executive member for economic development at SWT, said: “We’ve been working with Somerset County Council to secure delivery of the Digital Innovation Centre on our flagship Firepool site, allowing it to be delivered concurrently with the infrastructure, residential, commercial and leisure elements which will form part of our detailed plans. Next year will see some major activity on site as we start to deliver several simultaneous projects at Firepool. 

“We have also been working closely with Digital Somerset and other stakeholders to maximise the potential of this high-quality office and collaboration space to create jobs locally, and attract growth and investment.”

Rob Woolcock, director at Willmott Dixon’s Wales and West business said, “We are delighted to commence work at the Digital Innovation Centre, this is a landmark project for the Firepool site, and we understand how important this is to Taunton’s development as a regional hub for innovation and business development.” 

SCAPE group chief executive Mark Robinson said: “The tech sector has a critical role to play in the growth of regional economies across the UK, in turn driving prosperity in local communities. We’re proud to have helped Somerset County Council accelerate the progress of new Digital Innovation Centre to this point and look forward to working closely with Willmott Dixon’s experienced team as it brings this ambitious project to life.”

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The Digital Innovation Centre marks Willmott Dixon’s latest project in Somerset.  During the Spring, the company handed over Somerset Energy Innovation Centre 3 near Bridgwater and the iAero Centre in Yeovil, which provides a research, design and innovation facility to support the growing aerospace sector.  In May this year, the company also secured a contract to build Northgate Yard, a £16m mixed-use regeneration project in Bridgwater town centre providing a seven-screen cinema, eight-lane bowling alley and sports bar.

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