From tea to tech: Birmingham’s Typhoo factory to transform into tech hub

By on 13/03/2017 in Cllr Clancy, News

Typhoo Wharf

1 million sq ft redevelopment set to transform Typhoo tea factory into tech hub

  • Historic heritage site set to be transformed into tech hub in £200m redevelopment
  • Set to create a hub for tech and creative industry start-ups to meet demand from one of the Midlands’ fastest growing sectors, already contributing £6.4 billion to the local economy
  • Part of the city’s ambition to become global tech hub, laying down the gauntlet to cities including London, Berlin and San Francisco as it seeks to create the next global tech business

Stoford Developments has today been appointed to develop an historic heritage site in Birmingham. Previously the home of Typhoo Teas, over one million square foot is set to be transformed into a tech and creative hub, further carving out Greater Birmingham’s position as a centre for creative industries. This is a unique redevelopment, transforming an historic building to meet demand from businesses in one of Greater Birmingham’s fastest growing and most exciting sectors – tech and creative industries.

The £200m redevelopment is adjacent to HS2 Curzon Street station, part of the UK’s most ambitious infrastructure project, with HS2 set to attract even more people and businesses to relocate in the region. Typhoo Wharf is set to become a hub for businesses in digital, tech and creative industries, as well as supporting start-ups through incubator schemes.

The Midlands’ tech cluster is already a hotbed of innovation, with more than 200,000 businesses in the digital and technology sector, rapidly closing the gap with London. The number of tech and digital businesses being created is rising at a rapid rate, contributing £6.4 billion to the regional economy.

Greater Birmingham is at the heart of this tech revolution, home to more than 7,500 technology businesses, and employing nearly 40,000 people in the city. Greater Birmingham is already recognised as a world-leading location to start a business, with 17,473 new businesses registered in 2016, an increase of 25% on the previous year, and more than any other city outside the capital.

This development is set to accelerate the region’s booming tech sector even more rapidly, with over one million square foot set to include a mixture of Grade A office space, SME business incubator space, bars and restaurants, artist studios and homes, all in the heart of Digbeth, the city’s creative centre.

This is the latest in the region’s creative adaptions of historic buildings, redeveloping them for modern purposes to meet demand from the record levels of tech businesses being created in, and flocking to, the Midlands due to its world-leading sector credentials.

John Clancy, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “Typhoo Wharf is one of the most historic buildings in the country, and was a symbol of the UK’s manufacturing expertise for nearly a century. Greater Birmingham is investing heavily to transform itself, becoming a hub for businesses in tech and other creative industries, and it’s fitting that such an important historic building becomes the latest home for such businesses.

“The region is no longer just a world-leading manufacturing centre, but now creates more start-ups than any other regional economy. This redevelopment marks an important moment in Greater Birmingham’s history, as the region moves from tea to tech.”

Sir John Peace, chairman of the Midlands Engine, said: “This is a truly unique redevelopment which demonstrates the region’s ability to adapt to the constantly changing demands from businesses, people and investors across the world. The Midlands is an engine for innovation and Typhoo Wharf is set to cement the region’s credentials as a hub of creativity.”

Steve Hollis, Chair of Greater Birmingham Solihull LEP, said: “Our ambition is for Greater Birmingham to be recognised as the truly global tech hub it has become, and we want businesses from across the world to take advantage of the unparalleled offer we provide. We’re not only at the heart of the country, but we have world-class transport links, and with the arrival of HS2, there’s never been a better time for businesses and entrepreneurs to base themselves in Greater Birmingham and the wider region.

“The redevelopment of over one million square feet will help to meet demand from the growing tech and creative industry. There’s a hotbed of talent here and Typhoo Wharf will create unprecedented opportunities for start-ups to launch and thrive.”

Jon Andrews, director at Stoford, said: “This is a very ambitious scheme that promises to set the tone for transformation of the Digbeth area of the city and we are delighted to have been selected to play a central role in delivering this important development programme.

“This strategic development opportunity is within short walking distance of Birmingham’s proposed Curzon Street HS2 railway station and adjacent to the Metro tram line extension to High Street, Deritend, which is due to open in 2023.  This transformational infrastructure places the Gooch Estate portfolio at the heart of a programme of commercial and cultural development that will be of national and international significance.

“We will be working closely with Gooch Estate, Birmingham City Council and Curzon Regeneration Company, Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, Savills and other local stakeholders to ensure the vision for this ambitious scheme can be delivered with a collaborative approach.

“There is a fantastic and thriving arts community in Digbeth which makes it the contemporary cultural heart of the city. This is an important part of the mix that will attract unique occupiers and position Digbeth as an internationally attractive location in which to live and work.”

Holosphere is an example of a new start-up recently created in Greater Birmingham, with the region being the obvious home for the virtual reality and gaming developer to launch and grow.

Sean Duffy, Technical Director at Holosphere, said: “I’ve worked in Birmingham’s tech and creative scene for over a decade and in that time I’ve seen the city transform into a thriving home for digital business doing incredible things.

“Last year we started a new company, Holosphere, to explore the potential of VR for gaming and marketing. Birmingham and the Midlands is the perfect location for us, it’s home to thousands of ambitious graduates with exactly the right skills, the cost to set up a business is far lower than Shoreditch, and the quality of life is far higher.”

“Entrepreneurism is the fabric of this part of the world, ex industrial buildings form perfect creative spaces, and engineering and creating things is in the blood of people from this region.”

  • Typhoo Wharf was founded at the turn of the 20th century by John Sumner, a small grocer with big ambitions, with Typhoo tea becoming one of Britain’s most beloved heritage brands.
  • The Typhoo tea factory was one of Birmingham’s most notable landmarks for more than 50 years. Located at the corner of Bordesley and New Canal Street, it housed production of Typhoo tea for almost 50 years up until the factory’s closure in 1978.
  • Despite being bombed extensively during World War Two the building was repaired and continued to produce Typhoo tea for decades.

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