BY Sam Walker | Wednesday 29 November 2023
Ten years of transformational development has culminated in the opening of the final building to complete the £22m @TheDock tech campus in Hull.
Business leaders, politicians and members of the @TheDock tech community have come together to celebrate a decade of regeneration at the once-derelict site on the city’s waterfront.
@TheDock has become the focal point and flagship for the city’s tech sector, bringing a previously fragmented community together, and has been the catalyst for the growth of dozens of digital businesses and creation of hundreds of highly-skilled jobs.
It has also enabled traditional companies to collaborate with innovative digital start-up and scale-up ventures to embrace technology.
At the same time, @TheDock has played a major role in the transformation of the Fruit Market into a thriving urban village, which is now home to hundreds of residents and an array of independent shops, restaurants, bars and galleries.
The development has been led by regeneration specialist Wykeland Group and was kick-started by the opening of the flagship Centre for Digital Innovation (C4DI).
When plans were first mooted for C4DI, the question was asked “can Hull sustain a tech incubator?” Ten years later, and with the @TheDock campus expected to be home to 1,000 employees when the final building is fully occupied, the answer is a resounding “yes”.
Wykeland Managing Director, Dominic Gibbons, said: “The opening of the final @TheDock building completes a story of sustained investment and development, which has seen a derelict site transformed into a hub of innovation and collaboration.
“When we first began this project, the tech community in Hull was disparate. We wanted to create a place where tech specialists could come together and spark ideas, to help traditional businesses embrace technological change and drive economic growth.
“This development is the result of so many people, businesses and organisations working collaboratively together to create a thriving tech campus recognised as one of the most successful anywhere in the UK.
“We’re incredibly proud to see what @TheDock has become and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of the businesses and partners who have been part of this journey.”
@TheDock’s roots stretch back to 2013, with the launch of the C4DI Beta test site at Wykeland’s offices in Queen Street in the Fruit Market.
Working with key stakeholders. including broadband provider KCOM and the University of Hull, C4DI Beta provided a home for tech specialists to collaborate and innovate.
Its success led to construction of the first C4DI building, which opened in 2015.
In the years that followed, three more buildings have cemented the @TheDock campus as a flourishing tech community. Companies including Saab Technologies, payment tech provider Dojo, healthcare tech specialist Vertual and digital performance marketing agency Summit now call @TheDock their home.
Completion of the final building at the @TheDock site is the last piece in the development jigsaw. The development also includes the fabulous eateries Nibble, Next Door by Nibble and Bert’s Pizzeria, as well as the successful Stage @TheDock amphitheatre, which was developed over the listed former Central Dry Dock.
C4DI Co-Founder and Managing Director John Connolly has been involved in the journey since day one.
He said: “The team of Wykeland, KCOM, C4DI Co-Founder and Chair David Keel, and myself started C4DI Beta 10 years ago and the core aim of what we set out to do hasn’t changed since.
“The unique model of C4DI is centred around building bridges between large traditional businesses looking to innovate and adopt new technology, and scale-up businesses keen to grow their businesses by working with those large organisations.
“It is this activity that changes economies and build jobs and wealth, not only in the tech businesses, but also in the traditional companies they are serving.
“The end result is the UK’s largest privately-run tech incubator, recognised nationally for the size and scale of investment it generates and the quality of collaboration that takes place.”
Smart tech business Sauce has been part of C4DI from its origins.
Sauce Technical Director and Co-Founder John Polling said: “As a business which has been based at C4DI since the building opened, we’ve seen the @TheDock campus grow around us.
“As a tech business ourselves, it’s been the perfect place for us, working around like-minded people and sharing ideas and expertise.
“We’ve worked with major businesses, including Ideal Heating and Siemens Gamesa. That simply wouldn’t have happened without the support of the C4DI community.”
The opening of the final @TheDock building brings a further 11,000 sq ft of prime office space to the campus, creating the opportunity for 150 more highly-skilled tech jobs.
The building is available to let to either a single business or multiple tenants, with suites from 2,250 sq ft to the full 11,000 sq ft.
With renewable energy from rooftop solar panels, and air source heat pumps powering the heating and cooling system, the building is rated BREEAM “Very Good” – a sustainability rating that puts it in the top 25 per cent nationally for non-domestic buildings.
The net zero building is one of Hull’s most environmentally-friendly developments, with a green roof formed by flowering plants and a green wall section supporting biodiversity.
An undercroft car park includes electric vehicle charging points and cycle storage spaces, while energy efficient sensor lighting within the building further reduces its carbon footprint.
A special celebration event was held to open the final building and mark 10 years of transformation since C4DI Beta.
Hosted by former BBC Radio Humberside presenter David Burns, and featuring a keynote speech by tech entrepreneur and Plusnet Co-Founder Lee Strafford, the event heard from key figures involved in the @TheDock journey.
Entertainment was provided by Hull comedian Jack Gleadow, as guests heard Mr Gibbons, Mr Connolly and KCOM CEO Tim Shaw reflect on the positive impact @TheDock has had on the city.
From a disused waterfront site to a bustling hub of innovation and growth, the @TheDock campus is without doubt one of Hull’s great business success stories.
- To enquire about space in the new @TheDock building, contact John Gouldthorp on 07725 673402 or at email@example.com or Ben Cooper of letting agent PPH Commercial on 01482 626912 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
- For more information on the @TheDock tech campus, visit www.wykeland.co.uk/our_developments/thedock-hull/