How will the Met Tower redevelopment add to Glasgow's tech sector? – DIGIT.FYI

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How Will the Met Tower Redevelopment Add to Glasgow’s Tech Sector?

Graham Turner


Met tower glasgow

We speak to Peter Crowther, head of property development at Bruntood Scitech, to discuss the specialist developer’s plans to transform Glasgow’s Met Tower into a £60 million tech hub.

Graham Turner
Since being vacated in 2014, the Met Tower – an iconic part of Glasgow’s skyline, which bares an eye-catching pink banner with the slogan “People Make Glasgow” – has laid dormant.
That all changed last year when specialist property developer to the science and tech sector Bruntwood SciTech, purchased the building and announced plans to transform the space into a hub for digital and tech businesses, with work set to be completed in 2024 with a new building being constructed next to the tower set to open in 2026.
It comes at a perfect time as Glasgow enjoys a continued transformation into a leading tech hub, punctuated by the fact that tech companies in the city attracted a combined £100 million in private investment in 2022, up from £43m in 2020, itself a 153% increase from 2019, according to the latest figures.
Originally a £30-million transformation project from Bruntwood SciTech, the building’s owner announced in August last year that it would double its investment into the redevelopment to £60 million in a bid to transform the tower into a hub where university spinouts, startups, scaleups, and large leading tech businesses can co-locate together.
In addition, the company said it planned to make Met Tower a net zero carbon in operation building following a transformation project that will retain as much of its existing fabric as possible, significantly reducing the embedded carbon impact of the re-development.
With over 200,000 sq ft of coworking, serviced and leased office space across the two buildings, Met Tower – along with the Barclay’s Campus which opened in late 2021 and Global finance firm JPMorgan Chase Northern European Hub, which is set to open this year – is another big statement vaunting the rapid expansion of Glasgow’s tech sector.
DIGIT spoke to Pete Crowther, property director at Bruntwood SciTech to find out a bit more about the project.
Science and Tech Make Glasgow
Bruntwood SciTech bought Met Tower – the 14-storey former College of Building and Printing tower – from property developer Osborne+Co for £16.2m, making it the company’s first Scottish investment.
So, why Glasgow? According to Crowther, the city shares many similarities to others in Bruntwood SciTech’s network.
On this, he says: “Glasgow is such a vibrant city. It offers one of Europe’s most exciting, diverse tech and digital clusters and has significant growth potential. Having seen some of the highest growth in the whole of the UK in the past two years, Glasgow’s science and tech sector now makes up 28% of all jobs in the city.
“There are many similarities between Glasgow and the cities that are already part of our innovation network; Birmingham, Greater Manchester, Leeds, and Liverpool. Some of the UK’s top educational institutions are based in Glasgow including The University of Strathclyde, University of Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian University, and the City of Glasgow College, so there is a huge pool of exceptional highly skilled talent to draw upon.
“That’s why we think Met Tower, in the heart of Glasgow’s city centre and surrounded by three of these academic hubs, is perfectly placed to be the city’s leading tech and digital location for business.”
With the Barclay’s Campus, the JPMorgan Chase Northern European Hub and Glasgow’s Innovation District, we’ve already seen put in place a strong network of collaboration between business and academia, which Met Tower will fit into the picture of and strengthen the city’s status as a national and international hub for tech growth.
“Tech and digital businesses will have everything they need to create their first home or their regional, national or international hub at Met Tower and be supported with attracting and retaining talent,” according to Crowther.
He adds: “Businesses will also be provided with our sector specialist business support, offering direct access to funding and finance, new market opportunities, highly skilled STEM talent, and further growth and network access support.
“The two buildings will be interconnected and offer a restaurant for both the businesses located at Met Tower and the public, as well as multiple meeting rooms, a rooftop lounge and event space, a wellness room, secure cycle store with kit drying room, multi-faith room and cafe.”
It seems to be a project welcomed by all; a sentiment reflected by Crowther when he says that “everyone we’ve met in Glasgow has been incredibly friendly which makes the process even more exciting to be part of.”
Building on the past
Despite being a Grade B listed building, Met Tower is currently derelict, which offers the opportunity to transform it into a tech hub that’s conscious of modern requirements and issues close to the heart of the tech community, in particular, climate change.
It’s something Crowther is distinctly aware of and it’s an issue at the heart of the redevelopment.
On this, he says: “We knew very early on that we wanted to see the building become Net Zero in operations across its shared spaces. To do this, our transformation of the space is focused on retaining as much of its existing fabric as possible, significantly reducing the embedded carbon impact of the redevelopment, and we’re working closely with Glasgow City Council on this.
“The new building will be a completely new development but is also intended to be net zero carbon in operation.
“The materials we will use in both sites will be as locally sourced as possible so we can keep the journeys from quarry to site, or factory to site, as short as possible and to support the broader impact of the local economy.
“We will use all the knowledge and experience we’ve earned over the past 40 years of recycling buildings and creating new hubs to create what we hope will be a thriving, market leading and state-of-the-art innovation hub for Scotland.”
The ‘new building’ that Crowther mentions, will seek to compliment Met Tower, offering leased space for larger tech and digital businesses up to 10,000 sq ft per floor, and over 100,000 sq ft in total.
He adds: “We wanted to see the operation of Met Tower and the new build as one site so businesses in the new build will be able to collaborate with the startups and scaleups in the Tower and vice-versa, as well as being able to physically access each other through the interconnected street-level plaza offering shared breakout spaces and amenities.”
Now that work is well and truly underway, Bruntwood SciTech has announced that it will be hosting several events for businesses to find out more about joining the new ecosystem at Met Tower as the construction work progresses, details of which will come soon.
Construction will start this year, with both buildings on track for their openings in winter 2024 for Met Tower and early 2026 for the new building.
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Graham Turner
Sub Editor
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