Newcastle Helix is already home to Newcastle University’s award-winning Urban Sciences Building, Urban Observatory; The National Green Infrastructure Facility; and buildings such as The Core, a seven-floor home for science, digital and innovation-led businesses.
It has played a pivotal role in enabling the city to win the right to host four national centres – the National Innovation Centre for Data, the National Innovation Centre for Ageing, the National Centre for Energy Systems Integration, and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Innovation Observatory.
The site is also attracting international attention. The Japanese Ambassador recently visited the site, and there have been delegations from the US, China and Germany. Nicola Palmarini, who recently moved from Boston to take over as Director of National Innovation Centre for Ageing, previously worked at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and IBM.
From coal to code
While Newcastle Helix was a coal mine around a century ago, it then became the home of the Scottish and Newcastle Brewery, which produced the iconic Newcastle Brown Ale. When that closed in 2005, with the loss of hundreds of jobs, few people imagined that it would emerge as one of the most innovative centres in the UK. But the city council and university had a vision, bought the site and began the slow process of preparing it for building, including removing 38,000 tons of remaining coal.
It was a slow process made more difficult by the economic crisis, but when they eventually sought a partner to help with development, in 2017, they found that Legal & General was looking for just such an investment.