The Tontine will make the Glasgow city region a leader in innovation

A new centre of innovation – The Tontine – which will inject £53.6million into the economy of the Glasgow city region, was opened today (18 May).  This is the first Glasgow City Region City Deal project to be completed in the city.

The building was opened by Councillor Frank McAveety, Leader of Glasgow City Council, and Councillor Mark Macmillan, Leader of Renfrewshire Council.

The Tontine building, once the home of the workshop of legendary Scottish inventor James Watt, will showcase what Glasgow and the local authorities in the city-region can do to support some of the innovative industries that will bring future economic growth. This is the first project to be funded by the £1.13billion Glasgow City Region City Deal to open in the city. The Glasgow City Region City Deal will deliver 20 infrastructure schemes – bringing a forecast 43,000 jobs during and after construction – but will also, as in projects such as The Tontine, use innovation to deliver economic growth in Glasgow and surrounding areas.

The Tontine will support and sustain the development of high-growth companies in the enabling technology, advanced design and manufacturing, and creative economy sectors, with between 5 – 10 employees. 

There are three components parts to this exciting new addition to the city’s economy: the Centre for Civic Innovation, where innovation through collaboration between the public sector and private enterprise (particularly small and medium sized businesses) will be explored; the Open Innovation Pilot Programme, where best practice on the development and commercialisation of innovative technology will be shared and developed; and DEMOLA, an international platform for the co-creation of new products or services and hosted in partnership with Scottish Enterprise.

The Tontine will host high-quality and flexible workspaces for these companies, with a focus on those sectors which link with the city’s universities – to maximise cross-fertilisation between growing companies in the city and major multi-nationals and research programmes situated close by.  These spaces include breakout booths; networking and meeting areas; office and desk spaces; all of which are very attractive to both new and established organisations in these sectors. 

Councillor Frank McAveety, Leader of Glasgow City Council and chair of the Glasgow City Region City Deal Cabinet, said: “The opening of The Tontine is a landmark for our economy.  What has been created here is a business environment that will bring the type of jobs to deliver a long-term and ongoing economic boost to the Glasgow city region.  This City Deal-supported project will provide a perfect space for entrepreneurs working in high-tech industries to grow their business.  We will see some of the brightest and most innovative young companies in Scotland based in The Tontine.”

Councillor Mark Macmillan, Leader of Renfrewshire Council and holder of the enterprise portfolio in the Glasgow City Region City Deal Cabinet, said: “The Tontine is a great example of innovation supporting enterprise. This great building with its tremendous architectural legacy has been creatively restored as an inspiring business environment. The project illustrates City Deal’s ambitious aims for our economy by combining a commitment to excellence with entrepreneurial drive and an absolute determination to generate jobs. The Tontine sets high expectations for the city region’s enterprising future.”

Business support

Over the next five years, it is envisaged that 134 businesses will be supported at The Tontine, with each expected to increase their staff numbers by at least four per business.  This will result in the creation of 536 new jobs resulting in an increased turnover of £53.6m over the term of the programme.

The Tontine, which received £1.67million of City Deal funding via the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, will offer superfast broadband to organisations using space within the building.

The Tontine is a five year project, led by Glasgow City Council and delivered with support from the other Glasgow city region local authorities, Business Gateway and Scottish Enterprise.

In addition to The Tontine project, the Glasgow City Region City Deal is funding two other innovation projects – The University of Glasgow’s Imaging Centre of Excellence (ICE), expected to open in early 2017, and based at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus; and MediCity Scotland, a dedicated medical technology incubation facility based at Biocity Scotland Ltd in North Lanarkshire.  Together with other innovation hubs in Glasgow such as the Technology & Innovation Centre, the Data Lab and CENSIS, these schemes will make the Glasgow city-region an attractive location for new and established technology companies.

More information on the Glasgow City Region City Deal

Both the UK and Scottish Governments will give the Glasgow and Clyde Valley local authorities £500million in grant funding towards the projects of this City Deal, and the eight local authorities will borrow a further £130million to use for capital investment.  This City Deal is expected to unlock £3.3billion of private sector investment.

The eight local authorities participating in the Glasgow City Region City Deal are: East Dunbartonshire Council; East Renfrewshire Council; Glasgow City Council; Inverclyde Council; North Lanarkshire Council; Renfrewshire Council; South Lanarkshire Council and West Dunbartonshire Council.

Glasgow currently holds the title of European Entrepreneurial Region 2016.

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