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Mayor and Business Board chair tour Cambridge’s state-of-the-art West Hub


Mayor and Business Board chair tour Cambridge’s state-of-the-art West Hub

Visiting the West Hub in one of their meeting rooms, from left Dr Nik Johnson, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Al Kingsley, Chair of the Business Board, and Louisa Leitao Events Co-ordinator, West Hub. 

Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Dr Nik Johnson and Chair of the Combined Authority Business Board Al Kingsley toured the West Hub in Cambridge to find out how the innovative, publicly-accessible building is benefiting the whole community.

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The University of Cambridge’s unique, multi-purpose facility is a meeting place for students, businesses and the wider community to study, work, collaborate and socialise.  Opening in April 2022, it was part funded through a £3 million Local Growth Fund grant from the Combined Authority Business Board. Since launch it has made a big impact from its base at the innovation district at Cambridge West on JJ Thomson Avenue.

Mayor Dr Johnson and Mr Kingsley were able to see the vast range of facilities and spaces on offer. They include areas to study individually, open spaces for collaboration, meeting and board rooms, quiet spaces, well equipped tuition, conferencing and events spaces, a vibrant café, library, bar, shop and post office. There is even a media room to record podcasts and video, including a green screen facility.

From left, Al Kingsley, Dr Nik Johnson and Louisa Leitao in the West Hub’s media room where podcasts and video can be recorded. Picture: Combined Authority.

Guided by West Hub Events Co-Ordinator Louisa Leitao, they both heard about the variety of events, milestones and achievements which have happened since opening. Built around three key themes of learning, collaboration, and socialising, it has played host to exhibitions, concerts, sports activities, events for children and weekly entrepreneurship gatherings, among hundreds of events which have already taken place. The West Hub Café, which has no single use plastics, has become so popular, it has sometimes hit 900 covers per day.

The West Hub is a low carbon building, sustainably designed, with access to frequent public transport, and walking and cycling links.

Over the Summer months the recently landscaped outdoor space has proven popular as a destination to stop, relax and even celebrate. In July a university department hosted a Summer Social for its members with pizza and even a Formula 1 simulator. The external space adds another dimension of versatility to the kind of events the West Hub can host.

Mayor Dr Nik Johnson said: “What a fantastic, pioneering facility the West Hub is; intelligently designed and really does serve as a focal point for academia, business and this growing community in west and north-west Cambridge.

“What struck me about the visit was the vibrancy of the place, its flexibility and accessibility – if you wanted to catch up with fellow students, have a meeting with colleagues, break off for a nice breakfast or lunch, or sit yourself in a pod to have some quiet time to work or study, this place can meet that need.

“It’s also fantastic to see how much the local community has been made to feel a part of the West Hub through its ability to host different events, catering to people of all ages.”

“My values are compassion, co-operation and community and the West Hub ticks every box.”

Al Kingsley said: “My first thought was how many people I know in business, public sector and other walks of life who could really make a use of the West Hub. It really does offer something for everyone.

“The technology built in to the conferencing, tuition and meeting rooms is first rate and the whole flow of the building, transitioning from one space to another, feels very seamless and natural.

“The world of working, learning and living is changing and the West Hub meets a whole range of need for flexible, welcoming spaces that can cater to a host of demands. This building changes perceptions of what a collaborative, multipurpose space can be and what it can achieve, and it can also continue to adapt to the needs of its users over time. I’m pleased as a Business Board we were able to support the West Hub with funding and the benefits will continue to flow for years to come.”

Andy Neely, Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor: Enterprise and Business Relations at the University of Cambridge, said: “The West Hub is at the heart of the developing innovation district at Cambridge West.  Since the West Hub launched last year, it has created a real buzz– bringing together people from across the University, local business, and the wider community. Hundreds of events have already been held at the Hub, which is open to all, and it has become a unique venue for learning and collaboration – whether through networking events, or socialising at the café and bar. We were delighted to welcome Nik and Al and show them the impact the West Hub has had, thanks to the support of Combined Authority Business Board, and how its creation is benefitting the whole community.”

The West Hub is open Monday to Friday, 8am until 9pm, and is free to access for the public. There is also an option to book some of the facilities in advance. For more information visit the West Hub website: https://www.westcambridgehub.uk/