Business start-ups are the lifeblood of the economy and with 95 per cent of the UK’s businesses employing fewer than 10 people it is time purpose-built office space was provided for them, a leading enterprise agency has claimed.

With many sole traders and young entrepreneurs working from home or in out-dated offices, North Somerset Enterprise Agency believes the time is right in the south west to provide a state-of-the-art building that can become the home for as many as 60 entrepreneurs.

It has taken more than four years for the dream of creating an enterprise hub to become a reality, but on May 1 North Somerset Enterprise Agency will open its flagship managed workspace ‘The Hive,’ creating an enterprise and business start-up hub at the heart of Junction 21 Enterprise Area (J21EA), just off the M5.

J21EA is fast becoming the business gateway to the south west and The Hive, a £3.8m enterprise project, has been developed to meet the needs of the business community, not just in North Somerset but throughout the South West.

The Hive will deliver a wide range of services including on-site business support from North Somerset Enterprise Agency’s team, office space, meeting rooms and conference/seminar facilities while events, networking and training will regularly take place on-site. Virtual office packages and hot desk facilities will be also be available.

Angela Hicks, Chief Executive of North Somerset Enterprise Agency, said: “We know that 97 per cent of North Somerset businesses are small. We also know that a business doubles its chances of success if it gets advice and free start-up training.

“Therefore it’s important to us that we not only create office space for business start-ups as well as small and growing businesses but also provide a place where expert advice is on hand. This is a unique package for this part of the UK and indeed the only place in the south west where on-site business support is available along with a flexible managed workspace, creating a unique offer to start-up and small businesses.

“We are committed to local economic development and providing a building such as this is really an efficient economic development tool as businesses do not then have big overheads. Our focus has always been on small businesses, which are the engine of innovation, the biggest creator of new jobs, and traditionally employers of people with more diverse needs.”

The modern and extensively equipped workspace looks set to become an iconic building on the North Somerset business landscape. It is currently being built on part of the old Weston airfield and has used the latest sustainable technology to produce a state-of-the-art building which aims to be rated excellent by BREEAM, the world’s foremost environmental assessment method.

Angela added: “Providing a business support mechanism like The Hive is vitally important to this region while, as a social enterprise, we will also re-invest any surplus funds we make from operating The Hive back into enterprise development and business support.”