Northern tech hub launched in Preston with £1m jobs pledge

A London technology group has launched a Northern tech hub in Preston with a promise of £1m investment in the city.

By Brian Ellis
Thursday, 26th May 2022, 8:55 am

ClearCourse, which has snapped up three of Lancashire's leading software companies over the last three years, has amalgamated them all in a futuristic headquarters in Fulwood.

The hub, in Caxton Road, with its revolutionary workplace featuring a giant people slide, was previously the exclusive home of EKM until ClearCourse bought the firm in October last year for an undisclosed sum.

Now it will also house FLG Business Technology from Padiham - bought in September 2020 - and BrightOffice of Skelmersdale which was acquired in September 2019.

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Evolution House in Fulwood is home to the Northern tech hub.

The group says initially, around 150 employees will move to its Northern Tech Hub. It has pledged to spend £1m on hiring, upskilling current staff as well as learning and development.

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Best office in town?

ClearCourse is a group of tech companies that invests in software businesses for small and medium enterprises in the UK. Preston is its first regional hub for the development of tech innovation and talent.

The building cost EKM £3.5m in 2017 and features include the giant three-storey slide which runs from the top floor to the dining area, a meeting room inside an original Airstream caravan, state-of-the-art office technology, an expansive kitchen, relaxation area and gym.

Unique working environment in the former EKM headquarters.

“We’ve always been keen to work with companies across the UK, and we’re establishing the Northern Tech Hub in recognition of the amazing firms in the area, in support of the government’s levelling up agenda,” said John Antunes, managing director of the ClearCourse Group.

“The Hub will help to encourage really exciting sharing of ideas and experience between our firms and will be testament to the huge potential of the North as a really exciting centre for tech growth.

"We’ve historically had great success in the North West, and we want to continue to expand our footprint across the North and the whole of the UK.”

Julie Gordon, chief people officer at ClearCourse, said: “Our £1m investment into people and skills in the North West illustrates the great potential and opportunities that can be found in the region and across the country.

Inside the coolest office in Preston - the former EKM HQ with its people slide.

"Our hub stimulates engagement among employees, fosters collaboration, and enables us to attract the best talent that the region has to offer.

"The last few years have shown how employees value flexibility and a culture that supports hybrid working.

“ClearCourse prides itself on an environment that is sociable, creative and active, and we believe that our Northern Tech Hub gives rise to new ideas as well as makes it an attractive concept for talented locals, graduates and apprentices to come and be part of.”

The Preston hub follows on from the launch of ClearCourse's Manchester office in August last year. It also acquired job management software provider Eworks Manager in Birkenhead in December.

The amalgamation is the latest example of tech hubs being launched outside of London and the South East. Earlier this month, Bruntwood SciTech acquired Glasgow’s Met Tower for £16.2m to convert it into a new Glasgow hub for tech and digital businesses.

Earlier this year saw the UK tech industry reach a $1tn (£764bn) valuation, a milestone that has previously only been reached by the US and China.