Transformation Issue 1

Meeting the makers

Words By: James Nettleton

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Something interesting is coming... transforming the meaning of 'meanwhile'

Meet the people sowing seeds, changing perceptions and finessing their development plans through a series of temporary and not-so-temporary growth initiatives from Hillingdon to Sittingbourne.

“We have to get away from the idea that the clever, creative things we do are just space fillers before building a load of houses – that they’re cynical marketing ploys to make something seem interesting when it’s actually not. It’s about saying our inventiveness has a long-term inherent value, socially and commercially.”

James Nettleton has made a career out of bringing this mindset to U+I, where he heads up the Central Research Laboratory at The Old Vinyl Factory in Hayes as Programme Director. The incubator for start-up companies that make high-tech physical products has put real economic growth at the very centre of the £200m mixed-use scheme. The laboratory changes the nature of the landlord–tenant relationship – not just by providing start-ups with space and facilities, but by offering mentoring, deep expertise and, crucially, access to investment. We asked James to choose three of his favourite businesses making waves in Hayes.