Broadband for Science Parks and Business Centres

"Broadband services should be the second largest source of revenue and profit after rents for business centre and science park operators"

Bob Cushing, Founder of Broadband Vantage

Having run a company that delivered Broadband and ICT infrastructure to Science Parks and Business Centres, the principal of Broadband Vantage is ideally placed to them on the criticality of including a state of the art ICT infrastructure to deliver Broadband and ICT services to tenants.

This work is underpinned by BbV's experience with developing the ICT Active programme and the BSI PAS700 standard for ICT infrastructure in multi-tenanted commercial space.

BbV's services focus on developing an appropriate technical and commercial strategy matched to the overall business objectives of the client, followed up by a delivery project that might include surveys, design, demand calculation, business model development, procurement, fund raising, project management and marketing.

White Papers

Broadband Vantage has developed white papers on a range of topics relative to its expertise in Community Broadband, ICT infrastructure and Next Generation Access.

Two new white papers are available for download on the subject of Data Centres and Software as a service.

Edinburgh Technopole

The Technopole was acquired relatively recently by the BEST network of Science Parks and needed to upgrade its service provider offering to improve the range and value of services to tenants. The site is relatively remote but had a high quality fibre infrastructure built at the time of its renovation some years ago. This needed minor upgrading but the focus of the project was on the Service Provider element

The Challenges
Once the infrastructure had been surveyed and audited it became clear that only relatively minor upgrading was required for the site to be ready for a new service provider.
The site is not especially large and has a mix of large tenants with very specific requirements down to the smallest of businesses with very basic requirements. This mix does not suit all service providers and so the brief was to identify a company that could offer a range of services and was enthusiastic about the opportunity

The Project
The project was basically a procurement exercise to find the right service provider

A local service provider with an innovative service delivery platform that automated most of the service provision elements was recruited and has been successful.

Norwich Research Park

Norwich Research Park is an internationally renowned science and business community and Europe's leading centre for research in food, health and the environment.

Norwich Research Park is a unique partnership between UEA, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and four independent world-class research institutes: the John Innes Centre, the Institute of Food Research and The Genome Analysis Centre (all strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and The Sainsbury Laboratory linked to the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. The BBSRC is itself a partner as is the John Innes Foundation.

Norwich has been funded by Government to expand significantly over the next few years and it needed to raise the level of services it offers to tenants to make it competitive both on a national and international basis

The Challenges
Whilst the site already had two multi-tenanted buildings, the challenge was to design an infrastructure that was scalable and would allow further development including the new flagship Centrum building. The design had to scale to accommodate anything up to a doubling of the buildings on site as well as provide headroom for speed and capacity growth. Research users demand for capacity has exploded over the last few years and it was important to ensure that capacity could be scaled to almost any foreseeable level.

Whilst the existing partners had connectivity between themselves and to the outside world, the main challenge was to mirror these capabilities for commercial tenants. The range of different tenant types from research based to single building occupiers to multi-tenanted buildings meant that a wide range of services might be required. The site already has some "big data" users as the national centre for plant genome research. This includes a number of data centres and high intensity ICT usage. A decision was taken to run the core network on an Open Access basis with a split between wholesale and retail service providers. This would give the optimum flexibility to the operating model and enable users to get the range of services they were likely to need.

The Project
The project had two main elements:

1. Design a fibre optic network across the site. This had to be able to incorporate usage by the existing research organisations (who operate their own internal networks) as well as existing users and allow for expansion. The network would have to be built in phases to accommodate the new developments as they come on-stream

2. A service provider had to be recruited to run the core network and operate the wholesale services on behalf of the landlord. A range of service providers were then recruited to provide services over this network to the tenants. Both wholesale and retail service providers were recruited.

This has been one of the more complex projects we have undertaken for the following reasons:
  • The existing usage was split between commercial and research based networks
  • There are multiple stakeholders in the project and different elements of infrastructure are owned by different stakeholders
  • The range of service requirements was wide from simple office applications to the most sophisticated scientific applications
  • The range of tenants might be from one man start-ups to major multi-national research organisations
  • The Park wanted to retain maximum flexibility in how services were delivered
  • The build project would be in phases over multiple years
The first new building is now completed and in operation with the first phase of the core network and the service provision framework in place. Operating an Open Access Network is not suitable for every site; it tends to work best for the largest most complex sites. The project has been a success and is part of the foundations for the Park's future expansion.

Granta Park

Riverside was a new development of smaller offices on the Granta Park site. Most other buildings were large and the tenants sorted out their own ICT infrastructure – a step not normally undertaken by smaller tenants. BbV's challenge was to recruit a partner who could co-develop the ICT infrastructure and deliver services to incoming tenants.

The project has been a success with tenancy climbing, albeit in a tough market.



Colworth Science Park

Colworth Science Park had two challenges: to upgrade the ICT infrastructure and service offering to their existing tenants and to develop and specify the new Exchange Centre.

BbV developed a strategy for both parts including the procurement of a service provider partner and worked through the design and specifications of the Conference and Innovation centres within the Exchange to ensure they were capable of delivering Next Generation Access and services to tenants and casual users.


BioCity Nottingham

Biocity offers lab space and offices to companies in the Life Sciences sector from start up to divisions of multinational companies.

The challenge for BbV was to achieve an upgrade to the ICT infrastructure, and to deliver Next Generation Access and advanced services to the tenants.

This focused on the recruitment of a Managed Service Provider partner who had the capacity and the ability to co-invest in the ICT infrastructure and create that upgrade.



University of Southampton Science Park

University of Southampton Science Park creates Open Access Network - Tenants benefit from choice of Broadband and IT service providers.

Southampton is a large Science Park with 250k sq. ft. of mixed space across 14 buildings covering everything from an incubation space to standalone buildings occupied by some of the largest companies in the world. The Park had an exclusive arrangement with one of its tenants to provide services to other tenants, which was coming to the end of its 5 year contract.

Having conducted a strategic review it decided it wanted to:

  • Create a scalable and future proofed fibre optic infrastructure it would own and could operate via an outsourced service provider

  • Create an Open Access network which enabled multiple service providers to deliver services to tenants on a level playing field
The project broke down into a number of phases and involved over £100k of investment:
  1. Create a fibre optic campus network which connected all of the buildings together and which could be upgraded in terms of capacity and speed.
  2. Create a neutral "Point of Presence" where external connections and the campus network could be interconnected and where service providers could host their service delivery capability.
  3. Recruit a Service Provider (referred to as the "Wholesale Service Provider") to build and operate the network on the Park's behalf.
  4. Recruit between 2 and 4 "Retail" service providers (including the existing provider) who would contract with the Park for connectivity and POP hosting facilities and with the tenants directly for Broadband and other ICT services
The Park contracted with Broadband Vantage to undertake the project which included surveying the park and discussing their requirements with the tenants. Dr. Robin Chave, Operations Director said: "Broadband Vantage helped Southampton Science Park to develop an ICT infrastructure strategy which offers its tenants fast connection speeds, high resilience and a choice of service providers. The trustworthy advice and guidance provided by Broadband Vantage was clearly backed by a wealth of knowledge and experience, and was critical to the success of the project."

The Park is currently contracting with the retail service providers having completed the previous 3 phases of the project and expects to have full service up and running by the end of March 2012