Words by Georgia Jaggs
With a record number of new businesses founded in, and expanding to, Cornwall, the region is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for a vast range of companies.
Many people look to Cornwall to expand their business because they’re seeking a different way of working. If the past year has taught us anything, it’s the importance of a work life balance. Whether it’s to escape the crowded commute, do more with downtime or just to find the freedom and space to think freely, finding a work environment that’s inspiring, functional and rewarding can sometimes be tough; not so in Cornwall.
Today, that desire to work differently is reflected in Cornwall’s array of modern, purpose-built workspaces that can be found spanning the region. Whether firms are looking for a community of like-minded innovators, or a dedicated industry environment, Cornwall’s one-of-a-kind workspaces offer something for everyone, from historic seaside hotels transformed into contemporary offices, to eco-forward innovation centres focused on business collaboration, these workspaces are as diverse and characterful as the Cornish landscape itself.
Cornwall is steeped in industrial history – just take a look at the mines and quarries that dot the landscape. Building on this proud past, the Enterprise Space for Advanced Manufacturing (ESAM) is the first phase of the new Carluddon Technology Park. Constructed on redundant china clay land, ESAM offers businesses in the manufacturing, engineering and low carbon environmental goods and services sector a dedicated workspace designed to inspire. Its BREEAM-Excellent offices and industrial workspaces are bespoke, sustainable and well-connected. Even the views are spectacular; set above St Austell bay, the space looks out over the softer south coast and the distant rolling hills of Bodmin Moor. Despite only opening recently, there’s already a host of innovators sharing the space. Most recently, promotional merchandising company Fluid Branding, whose clients include Google, Virgin, Sky and American Airlines, moved to ESAM to expand their eCommerce development and new systems infrastructure.
Cornwall’s three innovation centres, in Pool, Penryn and Truro, are purpose-built for growing businesses that value community and collaboration. These are places to incubate, establish or even expand burgeoning companies, and a vibrant host of organisations – from charities to video game developers – already call them home. And for good reason. The growing, dynamic companies that work here can access first-class office facilities and informal networking areas, cutting edge research, and the individually tailored business support they need to kickstart innovation. For skincare pioneers Made for Life Organics, sales have grown 200% since being based at the sustainably built Truro location.
In celebration of Cornwall’s unique lifestyle, Crowdfunder and the Real Ideas Organisation (RIO) started C-Space back in 2018, they pledged to give firms in the region a creative, multifunctional co-working space to network, create and innovate. Just a stone’s throw from the spectacular beaches of Cornwall’s north coast, this £2 million renovation of a Newquay hotel includes everything from contemporary offices and local produce café, to a state-of-the-art production studio. However, it’s the wealth of expert business support available that really sets this particular workspace apart. With the two teams providing on-site expertise and guidance, it’s an ideal location for start-ups and established firms alike to bring radical new ideas to life. The result is an open, lively, bright, bold and vibrant working environment that provides firms with the space and support they need to grow globally – while still remaining closely connected to the region’s community, culture and history.
Taking a turn away from the traditional office, Distrikt offers a dynamic, ultra-flexible workspace. The premise is simple: pay per desk for however long you need. There’s no lock in fee, easy access to long-term rental and, importantly, superfast broadband. It’s built with a community of budding start-ups, entrepreneurs, freelancers and digital natives in mind, and with a lively, co-working environment providing a constant flow of new contacts, new opportunities and new ideas, inhabitants are thriving.
Innovation doesn’t always happen easily – but when your work environment suits you perfectly, it’s a whole lot easier. Luckily, there’s no shortage of inspiration to be found in Cornwall. Dedicated property portfolio website choosecornwall.co.uk, managed by Cornwall Development Company, brings together the finest state-of-the-art offices and flexible work hubs allowing you to easily search a range of available sites and property. Office space costs and business rates are significantly lower in Cornwall than in London (75% and 88% respectively) so with this in mind, and 704,000m2 of planned new workspace, whatever the size or shape of your business, you’re sure to find a workplace you love.
Not only is Cornwall home to exciting new innovation spaces and co-working centres, businesses are drawn in by the ecosystem of support that the region offers. With a thriving industry across a range of sectors, there is huge potential for funding and collaboration within this existing network. There are also dedicated teams ready to help all manner of businesses settle into the region and maximise their capabilities by making the most of the existing infrastructure.
Cornwall is a world class mining district with a strong mineral endowment of metals, such as lithium and cobalt, which are vital to modern technologies. New exploration and mining techniques have the potential to revitalise the industry in this region, and the rich heritage of mining in Cornwall has left a legacy of mining experience and expertise ready to assist companies wishing to invest in the area. With more than 110 mining businesses in Cornwall, there is a strong and vibrant mining cluster with a broad range of existing capabilities, talent and network of support.
Built on the foundations made by the region’s fishermen and farmers, Cornwall’s food and drink sector, including success stories such as Camel Valley, Tregothnan Tea and Rodda’s, continues to go from strength to strength. The industry sees an annual turnover of over £1.5 billion – making it one of the region’s most valuable sectors. There is a range of support available for food and drink companies within Cornwall, offering a fantastic chance to tap into new markets – especially when it comes to export, with more than £800 million in food and drink produce leaving Cornwall every year.
There is also funding support for both the HealthTech and Aerospace sectors. With one NHS Trust, one CCG and one Local Authority and over 30,000 jobs in health and social care, the region is supporting an ambitious HealthTech R&D programme with £2.7m of funding available through Plymouth University’s EPIC project. Launching the UK’s first horizontal spaceport in 2022 and home to world-renowned Goonhilly Earth Station, Cornwall is also fast becoming a centre for the UK’s space industry. With a whole host of companies leading the charge in space-related AI, data and machine-learning this is the place to be if you want to tap into the next era of exploration, with average qualifying grants for space and aerospace innovators of £135,000. Alongside the funding support in place, Cornwall’s business scene is driven by collaboration and community. There are incredible sector specific networks – such as Software Cornwall, Tech South West, Cornwall Mining Alliance and Creative Kernow – that help businesses connect and grow.
Boasting the world’s biggest rural fibre broadband network, Cornwall’s hyper-connected foundation for business is another key pull factor for companies looking to expand into the European market. Recently Marwick Marketing, a full service agency covering everything from search engine optimisation to social media management and website design, chose Cornwall as the location to expand their presence – all the way from Squamish in British Columbia – and establish a new UK-based office. CEO, Christian Thomson, commented: “Like Squamish, I’ve seen Cornwall quickly evolve in the past decade – especially places like Newquay, where there’s a thriving community of start-ups, I think the pandemic has helped even more businesses to see Cornwall as a compelling alternative to the city. It’s proved working in Cornwall is achievable for many sectors, and the region makes it easier to offer the work-life balance so many people are looking for.” Pulling in businesses such as this not only helps to raise Cornwall’s profile as a centre for business excellence but also creates exciting new career opportunities for all.
Not only does the region offer a great UK-base for international companies looking to expand their market, it also offers tailored support for Cornwall-based businesses looking to export internationally. Cornwall Trade and Investment takes businesses across the world to secure investment, meet like-minded entrepreneurs, explore new markets and meet potential buyers. In the current climate they have begun a ‘trade without travel’ programme with virtual trade missions for a range of sectors, helping them make the connections needed for export success.
As well as being able to find the perfect location, Cornwall has a growing hub of digital and creative talent, with three major universities developing and attracting valuable skills to the region, boasting more than 130 courses, from gaming to mining, and over 12,000 students. There’s also additional support available from Oxford Innovation and Unlocking Potential who can offer advice on team skills and attracting talent.
Moving to Cornwall isn’t about turning working life into one long holiday. Instead, it’s a chance to find a new balance and get the most from personal and professional life, whatever that looks like. Whether that be relaxing country walks, exciting outdoor sports, or just an award-winning place to eat – Cornwall has it all. With more than 30% of the region registered as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it’s no surprise Cornwall attracts millions of visitors every year. Every weekend is a new adventure, with hundreds of unique spots scattered across the region, from stunning beaches to hidden-away fishing villages. What are you waiting for?
Cornwall Trade and Investment is funded by Cornwall Council and the European Regional Development Fund.