Central Research Laboratory

Building a proposition for hardware innovation and entrepreneurship for U+I

U+I Plc are a developer with vision and ambition, but even they weren’t sure what to do to anchor the 17 hectare site that was the old EMI factory in Hayes, West London.

We were asked to find a compelling proposition and build support for it through our networks. Rather than the generic route of a co-working and community space, we arrived at a concept for the Central Research Labs, a pro-makerspace and startup accelerator full of hardware, digital, design and business talent. One space to work, build, innovate, scale, create and collaborate – bringing skills and job opportunities to the heart of a community. Drawing on the sites heritage of innovation and manufacturing to introduce 21st digital fabrication, and tethering it to local education partners it found favour not just with the developers but with a range of funding partners.

Beyond building the concept, Forth’s Director Daniel Charny continued in a stewarding role as Founding Director of the new operation as it found its feet, withdrawing on the identification and appointment of a CEO. Central Research Labs has proved a robust concept, its success seeding the spin out innovation lab +X. 

CRL has transformed our startup for a university project to an award winning business
CRL accelerator programme graduate

Project details

Year: 2014 -2016
Client: U+I Plc (previously Cathedral group)
Team : Daniel Charny, Dee Halligan, James Tooze and Nat Hunter.