Merchant City to be Glasgow’s second innovation district

Glasgow Cross is already home to a new tech incubator at the landmark Tontine building. Picture: John Devlin/TSPL
Glasgow Cross is already home to a new tech incubator at the landmark Tontine building. Picture: John Devlin/TSPL
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The Merchant City might be home to a wealth of designer shops and cocktail bars, but plans announced this week could see it become better known as a hub of technological innovation.

The area in Glasgow city centre has been identified by the local authority as a second “innovation district”, thanks to its proximity to the University of Strathclyde and the recently opened tech incubator in the landmark Tontine building.

A proposal to develop a £30million Tax Incremental Finance (TIF) scheme to support the creation of the innovation district was backed today by Glasgow City Council’s executive committee.

The proposed innovation district, the boundaries of which are still to be defined, would be used to showcase Glasgow as a location for innovative companies, as well as to attract investment to start-ups based in the city.

New office space, improved fibre infrastructure and upgraded public realm works will be carried out once a final business case has been signed off.

The plan follows the opening last May of The Tontine, which offers accommodation to help tech enterprises make the transition from promising start-ups to flourishing businesses.

The centre aims to increase the number of start-up businesses in the city that survive beyond their crucial third and fourth years of trading.

Currently, Glasgow has the highest ‘kill-off rate’ among start-ups in the top ten core UK cities.

The first innovation district identified was the West End, anchored by the University of Glasgow.

Both areas were judged to have the characteristics that could bring sustainable economic development in key sectors.

Glasgow City Council leader Frank McAveety said: “Glasgow’s traditional role as a home of innovation has been boosted in recent years by a number of projects, and the creation of innovation districts promises to take the city’s status for achievements in sectors such as life sciences, advanced manufacturing and energy to new heights.

“The development of a TIF scheme for such a district in the Merchant City would bring great economic and social benefits to Glasgow.”