Bradford Council set to hand over £1.1 million Design Exchange

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Dr Liam Sutton from Bradford University outside Bradford Design Exchange, Little Germany Dr Liam Sutton from Bradford University outside Bradford Design Exchange, Little Germany

BRADFORD Council is set to hand over the Design Exchange in Little Germany, worth an estimated £1.1 million, to Bradford University as part of a deal to create a new enterprise zone in the city.

The council-owned building will be a major part of the University Enterprise Zone, a £12 million scheme that was given backing by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills earlier this month. A partnership between the university, which is investing £5,104,000, council and BT, it has been claimed the zone could create up to 2,100 jobs and 180 new start up companies in the coming decade.

The zone would focus on the expanding tele-health and tele-social care sector.

As well as the Design Exchange, there will also be a £7 million health and wellbeing centre built on the university campus, work on which is expected to start in the next three years. It will be used by doctors, optometrists and pharmacists and for trialling out new health devices and services.

The project will see the Design Exchange become a centre for the research and development of hardware and software for the health care industry, with an on site team from BT and the university.

Based in former wool merchants, the exchange building currently includes 26 studios.

Digital health involves information and communication technologies used to help address health problems faced by patients, and can see them diagnosed from their own home through video links.

On Tuesday, Bradford Council's executive will decide whether to hand the building to the University, as well as providing £50,000 towards the project's running costs and business support services worth £250,000. With the building under university ownership, the partnership will be able to get the maximum amount of grant funding from the Government.

A report going to the executive says current tenants would have to leave the exchange, and that the council would provide relocation advice.

It says the new centre would be a "compelling offer for new and growing businesses," and would help "create a substantial number of new high tech companies and corresponding well paid jobs in Bradford." It also reveals that the exchange is "currently losing money" to the authority.

If the executive approves the transfer, the university will take over all responsibility for the upkeep of the exchange, which the partnership hopes will open as a digital health hub next year.

Dr Liam Sutton, head of knowledge transfer at the University of Bradford, said: "The Design Exchange is an important part of the plans of the partnership between the university, council and BT for a digital health zone. We look forward to helping businesses to start up and grow in the city centre."

The executive meets at 10.30am in Bradford City Hall.

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