Caroline Lucas MP met some of the most unique start up businesses in Brighton when she visited FIELD at Preston Barracks, a project funded by the Coast 2 Capital Local Enterprise Partnership, created and managed by U+I Plc.
The refurbished former Territorial Army building is home to eight start-ups who won residency there against stiff competition, representing some of the best creative ‘maker’ talent in the city. Caroline called in on The Bug Boys, a sustainable food manufacturer, innovating the farming of edible insects; Play Talk Learn, an education tech company developing children’s toys that bring mathematical patterns to life; and Intrepid Camera, producers of handmade wooden film cameras that combine traditional craft and digital fabrication.
She also met the team behind Control Freq, a bespoke ‘Internet of Things’ door entry system that users can access through their mobile; Flux Cycle Works which uses techniques like 3D printing to produce affordable cargo and commuter bikes; P Kirkwood who creates handcrafted, functional and stylish leather goods; and Union Motion, an engineering group revolutionising the production of electric motorbikes. She also met newest arrival, Makerclub, who create robotic kits for inventors of all ages.
Caroline Lucas MP said, “It is brilliant to see so many extraordinary start ups at this new site. These are the businesses creating the new products and business models that will change the way we live in years to come.”
FIELD aims to be the precursor to a cutting-edge 50,000 sq ft facility to support new, hi-tech and design-led start-up companies, which is at the heart of proposals for the future redevelopment of the Preston Barracks site. It has attracted a £7.7 million grant investment from the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership, which will part-fund the building alongside further private investment secured by U+I.
Caroline also visited businesses based at FIELD, including The Brighton & Hove Wood Recycling Project, open daily selling reclaimed timber, upcycled wooden products and bespoke furniture; Community 21, a collaborative practice initiated by the University of Brighton to get people engaged in community and neighbourhood planning, using fun and accessible tools and technology; and The Bike Hub, which collects unwanted bikes and works with volunteers to refurbish and sell them at low cost to local people, as well as running self help and tutored bike repair and maintenance sessions.
Refreshments were served by Old Tree Brewery who have opened up a café and retail space on-site at FIELD with space to realise their vision of becoming a drinks producing enterprise that contributes to earth regeneration.
James Nettleton and Sarah Chitty from U+I Plc hosted the visit and also introduced future development proposals for Momentum Lewes Road, which incorporates Preston Barracks, which is expected to create over 1000 jobs, add over £500m to local economy over 10 years and provide over a thousand bedrooms for students as well as hundreds of new homes.
Said James Nettleton, U+I Plc, “This is an experiment to establish what the future of workspace looks like in Brighton, we don’t have all the answers yet, so FIELD is about asking questions and engaging with potential end users, with a view to it helping us design a new facility which makes a meaningful contribution to workspace in the city, which is currently under-supplied.”