Introducing the Queen Mary Enterprise Zone

This month at qLegal, two of our Student Advisors met with Sheryl Malloy, the Queen Mary Enterprise Zone Community Manager. The Queen Mary Enterprise Zone (QME) is an innovation hub offering flexible and modern workspace for Digital Health, MedTech and AI start-ups in East London. The centre is Queen Mary University of London’s (QMUL) latest innovation space, offering 40,000 square feet of incubation space to support life science companies via the Queen Mary BioEnterprises (QMB) Innovation Centre.

Hi Sheryl, can you tell us about what inspired QME and your role here?

Queen Mary University enterprise design is a project that is funded by Research England. We were one of the twenty enterprise zones provided with £20 million funding from Research England in 2019. QMUL received £1.5 million to put into QME.

The goal of the Research England project is to strengthen ties between universities and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to help these businesses grow within the community. Once the university received the grant, we started the project. It was under construction for the past year, but we were granted project completion in March 2021, and QME officially opened in March.

The Zone focuses on Digital Health, MedTech and Artificial Intelligence start-up companies. Companies in other sectors are also welcome, but we have a specific target market in that industry.

How involved are the stakeholders in the program?

The three main stakeholders are QMUL, Queen Mary BioEnterprises and Research England. It is an excellent working relationship. We provide reports and updates monthly or every couple of months to keep everyone updated with the progress and any developments.

How many clients or companies are residents at QME?

Due to COVID restrictions and guidelines, we don’t have as many tenants as we had hoped, and we are waiting for restrictions to ease and people to start working from offices instead of working from home. Currently, we have two companies signed on as tenants; there are a few more in the pipeline with contracts and negotiations ongoing.

We also provide services beyond the regular tenancy or residency on the building, and we also offer virtual residencies. For example, if a start-up requires a London working address or registered office address. We have flexible workspaces, so if someone wants to come in for a day to work in the space, they can reach out and book a place for the day.

Members have the option to book a part-time membership for ten days per month, or a full-time membership. Additionally, we have private offices with flexible lease agreements. One of our tenants has a private office that they use from Monday to Friday, and we have other companies or brokers coming in utilising the space on a day-to-day basis.

Photo by QM Enterprise Zone

Are any of your tenants directly connected to QMUL?

There are no direct tenants from QMUL yet, however, one of our tenants is also a resident at Queen Mary BioEnterprises where they have 40,000 square feet of lab space. They have a lot more, well-established companies leasing out space, and we have one of those tenants here.

What we’re trying to achieve is connecting these companies with teams within QMUL, to help them work together.

Students from Queen Mary, undergraduates or post-grads who are creating things in the Artificial Intelligence, Medical tech, Digital health, or even outside of that are welcome. We are more than happy to help them get them to come into QME.

Was the opening in March intentional or an after effect of COVID complications?

Ideally, we would have opened earlier, but there were delays with construction and the delivery of furnishings and construction equipment. All these setbacks forced us to have a delayed opening.

What does your clientele look like, anyone we might know?

We have some companies that have been in business for a couple of years. These are companies that have been growing and employing staff. We have Roseway Labs, which is in pharmaceuticals; there’s been a demand for their services and they have grown significantly over the past few months.

There is also Kaiku, which is a company that helps connect start-ups with investors. It started about a year and a half ago; they’re also growing and looking at bringing on board more staff.

Photo by QM Enterprise Zone

What are the challenges that QME has faced so far?

QME is currently focusing on attracting more companies expanding from our digital health focus and helping them grow. With the pandemic, many companies have taken a big hit financially and don’t want to commit to the additional expense of workspaces. When restrictions were still in place, people didn’t want to travel into office areas because of COVID. However, things are opening up again now, and we have developed a competitive offering in terms of prices and spaces. We are confident this will attract the right people into this space.

What else does QME do beyond physical or residential services?

One of our tenants in the space, Kaiku, helps connect start-ups with investors. As an option for any tenants looking at coming in, we can connect them with this company, and that company can help find investors. We are also working in collaboration with Queen Mary, qLegal and qNomics. The students that work with these organisations can come in and support the companies with legal and financial advice should they need it.

It’s all in the pipeline to help companies access these services, connecting universities to SMEs, and see it benefit both the companies and the students.

For the future, we are looking to create accelerator facilities with mentors on board, hosting events for companies to network, and growing their knowledge and expertise within the industry. We are also looking at partnering with the Queen Mary business development team. We will be hosting Continuous Personal Development (CPD) courses and additional training courses for companies looking to further their education and relevant knowledge.

And then we’re also working on collaborations with other life science companies in London. Essentially, we’re betting on cooperation, not just with Queen Mary University, but also with other companies directly aligned with our vision to help start-ups and to further build our communities.

What kind of feedback have you received from your clients and the other stakeholders involved?

In terms of the space, everyone loves it. The openness and the brightness of the area are particularly well received. It also provides the community that entrepreneurs and professionals need. We’re looking at really getting more people in and hosting the events running the community.

We are also very active with our advertisements; we’re working with Queen Mary’s internal and external communications team, online brokers, social media, and we have connected with an external media partner. We are working with like-minded companies to promote each other and get our members mixing and seeing how we can help each other out.

Is there a discount for Queen Mary alumni to use this space?

We are all about supporting the growth of Queen Mary’s community of entrepreneurs. Currently, we do offer discounts on our prices as we are launching. Anyone from Queen Mary can get in touch for a tour of the space or use this space for a complimentary day to decide if they like the space and if they would like to get a membership.

Let’s get a little personal, why did you choose to work for an enterprise zone, and what experience do you have with them?

I come from a hospitality background before transitioning into co-working spaces. I like working with and interacting with different people and companies and seeing what I can help or change in the system. Coming to Queen Mary was different for me, but still familiar as co-working was something I knew. However, working in life sciences was different; it challenges me, and you can see the changes we’re helping make within the community.

What are you looking forward to doing with the space in the near future?

I am looking forward to hosting more events and workshops in the space now that the restrictions have been lifted. We are also looking at having the launch party because, given the previous guidelines, we couldn’t do so. At the launch party, we can appeal to a lot more people and spread the word about QME.

We also have a call with the qLegal and qNomics teams soon, planning workshops and holding advisory meetings with the occupants of the space, so it’s all very exciting.

Thank you so much for having us here today, it is such a lovely space.

Thank you for coming here and discussing; it was great to have you here.

Photo by QM Enterprise Zone

Notes

You can contact Sheryl via email at s.malloy@qmul.ac.uk.

The Queen Mary Enterprise Zone is located at Queen Mary University Enterprise Zone, The QMB Innovation Centre, 5 Walden St, London, E1 2EF

https://www.qmenterprisezone.com/

This article was written by Bamise Fatoke and Yatika Sihag, student legal advisers at qLegal. qLegal is an award-winning pro bono service providing free legal advice to start-ups and entrepreneurs on intellectual property, data protection, corporate and commercial law. More details on how to book your appointment are available on the qLegal website. Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for regular updates on issues relevant to your business.

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