A REFURBISHMENT at Lincoln’s Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU) has now reached completion, creating the Lincolnshire Open Research and Innovation Centre (LORIC) for local SMEs.

Delivered by construction company Robert Woodhead Ltd. and architects LK2, the £4 million project has transformed the university’s 750 m2 Grade II listed St Hugh’s building – which was formerly a ‘home for boys’ – into a cutting-edge support facility for SMEs in the region. The building will also now be home to BGU’s Business Inspiration scheme.

The building has been refurbished to create a contemporary working environment whilst retaining original features, such as windows, fire places and decorative balustrades. The finished project has achieved a BREEAM rating of ‘Very Good’ with the addition of secondary glazing, additional thermal insulation and the use of an infra-red panel heating system which will reduce running costs as well as energy consumption.

Andy Newman, associate at LK2 said: “We were delighted to work with BGU on this exciting project, which will truly have a positive effect on the local business community. We have a longstanding relationship with BGU and we were able to work alongside the university to refurbish the building in a sympathetic and modern way.

“As a Lincoln-based company, we’re proud to be involved in this project, which will provide vital support services to help local small businesses thrive.”

Juliet Slater, team leader for the Lincoln team at Robert Woodhead said: “We were delighted to work with BGU, along with LK2, in the early stages of this project to assist the securing of the European funding, and then to complete the process by building it out in the sympathetic manner required for the listed building that it is. Our team has really enjoyed the challenges that this historic building has thrown up and the holistic team ethos has been inspirational.”

Conceived by BGU, the LORIC will provide support to businesses, public and third-sector organisations across Greater Lincolnshire by enabling connections with data specialists and researchers to bring new insights for businesses.

The BGU Business Inspiration project at the LORIC will promote innovation and growth in small and medium sized businesses in Greater Lincolnshire with tailored support and grants towards specialist consultancy, graduate internship and first time attendance at trade fairs and exhibitions. Both it and LORIC highlight the commitment of BGU to developing the communities that have supported us for more than 155 years.

Christopher Bridle, LORIC project manager, praised the advances the new facilities and the LORIC itself will offer: “The Lincolnshire Open Research & Innovation Centre promotes and enables data-driven innovation for Greater Lincolnshire businesses. The newly refurbished LORIC building provides a collaboration space for businesses and BGU researchers to interact, and for specialised training in the use of open data to inform decision making. LORIC links BGU researchers with relevant business and, in so doing, will drive business innovation and the translation of research into practice.”

The project was awarded over £2.6 million in funding from the European Regional Development Fund to support the works.

Both Robert Woodhead and LK2 have previously worked on a number of projects for BGU, including a 7,770 sq ft extension to the university’s highly commended Constance Stewart Hall.

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