Celebrations at official launch of Network Eagle Lab

Network Eagle Lab official opening ribbon cutting

Network Eagle Lab opened the doors to Southampton’s first collaborative co-working space in a highly anticipated official opening event on Wednesday 26 June. The 12,500sq ft re-purposed retail space on the second floor of the Marlands shopping centre supports co-workers from the creative, digital and knowledge based sectors.

Offering cutting edge technology combined with comfortable open plan facilities and office spaces, Southampton City Council has made a £1.5m capital investment in the creation of Network. Working with numerous partners, the collaboration has ensured a top end fit-out was completed. This has been coupled with a fit for purpose IT infrastructure to provide occupiers with a unique co-working space in which to grow start-up or scale-up businesses.

Barclays Eagle Labs have been appointed as partners to run the venture. Working with a Local Authority for the very first time, Network will become the 23rd location in their impressive portfolio of Barclays Eagle Labs across the UK, and will be one of the biggest co-working sites that they operate.

The location boasts state of the art technology, with a spacious maker space which incorporates the equipment needed to develop early stage prototypes, facilitated by the team of Eagle Lab Engineers. Capabilities include 3D Ultimaker FDM printers, a Trotec Speedy 100 for laser cutting, etching and engraving and a Roland GS-24 Vinyl Cutter for plotting and cutting, as well as electronics development and testing with a range of small electronics, rework and testing equipment. The Southampton Lab also has a media suite with extensive kit. The suite has Pod cast capability with up to four mics, mixers and computers. There's equipment for video editing and filming with two green screens, multiple LED and incandescent lighting, coupled with a photography studio with two Canon DSLR’s with a collection lens and filters.

Not surprisingly there has been significant interest in the venue, with one of the offices already let and co-workers signed up to the flexible membership packages that are available. Debby Clement, co-founder of Peopley, a company providing software and support to solve the hiring challenges of growing technology businesses has already secured a co-working membership. When asked why she chose Network Eagle Lab, Debby said: “I heard about Eagle Labs through the 'Invest in Southampton' e-newsletter. It is perfect for Peopley, not only is it a great place to work, the space is flexible and super-creative plus it offers huge opportunities through its collaborative network.”

Steven Roberts, Managing Director of Barclays UK Ventures, a keynote speaker at the launch event, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Southampton City Council as our first Local Authority collaboration and Network Eagle Lab will help further our investment in the city’s entrepreneurs. Technology is transforming the speed at which start-ups can grow and scale, and by providing practical resources in an exciting co-working space such as this, alongside our financial expertise, we are well positioned to help people succeed. Network Eagle Lab will take our relationship with local entrepreneurs one step further, with access to our specialist high growth team alongside the tools and resources that will support and develop key skills to accelerate growth in the future. This has to be great news for Southampton’s business community and local economy.”

Councillor Christopher Hammond, Leader of Southampton City Council, who was also speaking at the launch, said: “The city council had a very clear vision that the space would provide creative, digital and knowledge based entrepreneurs with a contemporary co-working space that would encourage the freedom to work in a collaborative environment. Co-working environments are well established in cities such as London and Manchester and it was imperative that we provided a fit for purpose flexible space in order for this growth industry sector to continue to thrive in Southampton. The Network Eagle Lab will deliver exactly that.”