Stockport Council has announced plans for a new state-of-the-art innovation centre in the heart of Stockport Town Centre.

The new site, which will be named the Merseyway Innovation Centre will be a 15,000-square-foot space on the upper floors of the Merseyway Shopping Centre, which is currently vacant.

That space will now be transformed into a flexible serviced office and co-working accommodation.

Due to open in Summer 2023, the Innovation Centre will transform the first floor of the former Next store and the adjacent former Metro Gym into a fantastic new hub for start-up businesses and entrepreneurs. At full capacity, the Innovation Centre has the potential to accommodate up to 50 new businesses right in the heart of Merseyway.

Stockport Council says this will offer a ‘thriving Innovation Centre where fledgling and small businesses will be supported in their growth plans in a centrally located, flexible and inspirational environment.’

They believe it will be another vital cog which is helping to regenerate the area, as numerous plans continue apace.

Some of the facilities at the new centre include:

  • Business lounge – a meeting area, providing opportunities for collaboration and development of the MIC business community
  • Co-working space – bookable desks for small and micro businesses or individuals working remotely. A first step for growing a new business
  • Business units – shared and individual offices with between one and four desks per office, aimed at new and young businesses requiring “incubation” space and support
  • Grow on space aimed at more established businesses with between 4 and 10 employees
  • Meeting rooms
  • All customers will also have access to business support and a programme of workshops and networking opportunities delivered from the centre
  • Ultra-fast broadband

The Innovation Centre supports the Council’s investment into diversifying the town centre, attracting a wide range of people, whilst also repurposing former retail units.

The scheme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Government funds and Stockport Council. Support from the Arts Council England’s Cultural Development Fund will enhance the digital creative offer.

Cllr Colin MacAlister, Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration at Stockport Council, said: “We have a thriving business community in Stockport but this will strengthen our offer and provide that all-important support for new and small businesses, providing everything they need for their business to grow and prosper.

“The improvements we are making to the wider Merseyway Shopping Centre will further enhance the area and the new Transport Interchange just across the road will make it even more accessible, allowing more people to take advantage of the fantastic facilities and all our town centre has to offer.”

Work will include the construction and fit-out, as well as renovation work to the façade.

It is set to be undertaken by local contractor TMT commercial, who are Stockport based.

TMT will track carbon emissions to and from the site and collect data from waste removal to target less than 0.5% to landfill.

Further added value from the project will see TMT spend 80 hours of voluntary time to support local community projects, make donations to local sports teams and assist Stockport Women’s Centre in the refurbishment of some of their space used to support local women.