The Russell Building at Rothamsted Enterprises in Harpenden has been newly refurbished to provide much-needed office and hot-desking space for growing SMEs across agriculture, innovation and technology.

The historic red brick building, which had lain empty since 2014, has been transformed by Rothamsted Enterprises and Lawes Agricultural Trust, with the help of a £1.7m Local Growth Fund investment from Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Herts Innovation Quarter (Herts IQ), which is boosting agri-tech growth in the county.

The investment has breathed new life into the building, bringing forward modern, multi-use spaces, including 22 offices of various sizes, from 200ft2 to over 1,200ft2, a hot-desk hub for flexible working, and an open plan innovation space where entrepreneurs can collaborate before prototyping their ideas and testing on-site.

The increase in workspace capacity will enable a greater number of companies to take advantage of the tax breaks, free business support and collaboration opportunities offered by Herts IQ with innovation partners Rothamsted Research, Rothamsted Enterprises, and Lawes Agricultural Trust.

Cherie Norris, Herts IQ Enterprise Zone Manager at Hertfordshire LEP, said: “As the original birthplace of agricultural science in the UK, we’re pleased that the Russell Building will once again be home to the next generation of agri-tech and food-tech innovators. Our investment will support more businesses to join Herts IQ and take advantage of the world-class expertise available at Rothamsted Research, and we’re delighted to support their future success in Hertfordshire.”

JPA Workspaces, based in St Albans, has assisted with the furnishing of the expansive hot-desking hub and reception areas. Additionally, they have worked closely with Rothamsted Enterprises to furnish a show office with contemporary height-adjustable desks, wireless charging and desktop power, to help attract and inspire prospective tenants.

Sustainability is central to the project and is reflected right through to the furnishings. Timber-based products supplied by JPA are from sustainable sources, recyclable at end of life, and accompanied by lengthy warranties. JPA’s furniture installation was zero waste and carbon neutral, contributing to Hertfordshire’s drive for sustainable growth.

With a heavy emphasis on design for wellbeing across the entire refurbishment, the scheme provides a working illustration of versatile, future proofed office and collaboration spaces designed to enhance user experience, mental health and engagement.

Furniture packages are also available to rent, lease or purchase outright from JPA, tailored to budget, design and individual tenant requirements. JPA maintain and support all furniture items installed inclusively within their service package so that all areas can be kept operational 24/7 or as required, ensuring best long-term return on investment and value over total cost of life.

Graham Pulsford, Managing Director of JPA, said: “We are delighted to have been able to showcase the benefits of working with local partners for this project which has delivered measurable local impact and value for all parties, and we look forward to building our working relationship with the team at Rothamsted. It has been a pleasure."

“We’re delighted that this iconic building is now back in use as a hub for agri-tech businesses and it has been great to work with local business, JPA, who have delivered a carbon neutral, zero waste furniture installation for us,” said Nicole Sadd, CEO, Rothamsted Enterprises. “We very much look forward to welcoming lots of innovative businesses to the Rothamsted ecosystem.”

Businesses in agri-tech, agri-food, climate change, farming, agricultural science and research looking for new office premises in Hertfordshire should contact Claire Wolstencroft on info@rothamstedenterprises.com or call 01582 938500.

Businesses looking to partner with a sustainable furniture/workspace supplier should contact JPA Workspaces on hello@jpa-workspaces.com or call 01727 840800.