Landmark 'People Make Glasgow' building to become major tech hub with £30m revamp

One of Glasgow’s most distinctive buildings – famous for its “People Make Glasgow” sign – is being turned into a hub for tech and digital businesses with a planned £30 million revamp.

The transformation programme on the cards for Met Tower – a 14-storey office building in the heart of the city centre that’s been vacant since 2014 – has been unveiled by Bruntwood SciTech after it acquired the landmark site from Osborne+Co for £16.2m.

Bruntwood SciTech, a joint venture (JV) between investor and developer Bruntwood and insurer Legal & General, describes itself as a property and innovation services provider dedicated to driving the growth of the science and technology sector.

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It says its plans – which are being backed by OakNorth Bank – will see the Grade B listed, old City of Glasgow College building become a hub where university spin-outs, start-ups, scale-ups, and large, leading tech businesses can co-locate and “benefit from being in an innovative, collaborative tech cluster”.

Additionally, it is intended that Met Tower will be net zero in operation following the overhaul that will retain as much of its existing fabric as possible.

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Bruntwood SciTech says businesses based there will be able to access both the JV’s UK-wide network of innovation districts, allowing them to collaborate with a 500-strong specialist community of tech and science businesses, and its Innovation Services support that encompasses skilled science, technology, engineering and mathematics talent, new markets, funding and finance support and professional services advice.

The plans include 113,000 square feet of co-working, serviced and leased office space, but also a shared breakout space as well as a cafe and rooftop lounge, for example. Work is expected to start later this year, subject to planning, and complete in 2024.

The former City of Glasgow College building is becoming a hub for university spin-outs, start-ups, scale-ups, and major large tech firms. Picture: Craig Leggat/Alamy Stock Photo.

Kate Lawlor, chief executive of Bruntwood SciTech, said: “Glasgow has one of Europe’s most exciting, diverse tech and digital clusters with exceptional higher education institutions and clinical assets. Met Tower is perfectly placed to help create a hub in which these businesses can scale, co-innovate and thrive.

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She added that the site being near Strathclyde and Glasgow Caledonian universities and the City of Glasgow College “will provide a huge pool of exceptional talent to draw upon” – and she also stated that science and tech now make up more than a quarter of all jobs in the city, and it remains one of the top three tech cities in the UK outside London.

“Our investment in Glasgow is for the long term, and as we’ve demonstrated in our other cities, we are committed to becoming embedded and driving forwards the growth of the knowledge economy and economic impact of the sector both in Glasgow and other parts of Scotland. This is our first in hopefully several brilliant projects in the country,” she also stated.

Bruntwood SciTech says Glasgow joins its network of innovation districts in Birmingham, Cambridge, Greater Manchester, Leeds, and Liverpool, amid its bid to create more than 40,000 high-value jobs over the next decade.

The JV also said its commitment to Glasgow mirrors that of its shareholder Legal & General, while plans for Met Tower’s adjacent development site “are being reviewed and are yet to be finalised”.

Ryden, Brodies and Addleshaw Goddard advised Bruntwood SciTech, and Pinsents advised OakNorth on the acquisition, and Savills and DLA represented Osborne+Co.

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