In November 2023, OrbisEnergy reached a significant milestone. The clean energy innovation hub celebrated 15 years since first opening its doors to welcome companies to set up in the East of England.

Hailed as a completely new offer for the emerging clean energy sector at the time, OrbisEnergy offered something different with high-quality, well-appointed office accommodation, meeting spaces and a stunning location to hold conferences that could compete with venues on a global scale.

OrbisEnergy quickly became a sought-after base for high-growth, innovative and energetic enterprises.

The OrbisEnergy ethos

During its 15 years, OrbisEnergy has provided an essential landing pad for hundreds of organisations, many of which have enjoyed enormous success, employing local people and spinning out to larger premises in Lowestoft and the surrounding area – exactly the role OrbisEnergy was intended to perform when stakeholders first drafted plans for the building back in the mid-2000s.

Owned by Suffolk County Council with day-to-day building management provided by Vertas, OrbisEnergy continues to thrive with more than 40 businesses based at the centre, including household names like ScottishPower Renewables and SSE, through to locally grown businesses like CHPV and 4C Offshore.

Eastern Daily Press: he conference room is ideal for large gatherings, such as the East Suffolk Hydrogen Conferencehe conference room is ideal for large gatherings, such as the East Suffolk Hydrogen Conference (Image: OrbisEnergy)
It enjoys high levels of occupancy, between 98% and 100% throughout 2023, alongside regularly hosting a range of high-profile industry events like East Wind’s Offshore Cluster group and the inaugural East Suffolk Hydrogen Conference, shining a light on the incredible clean energy opportunities taking place in the East of England.

“The ethos of OrbisEnergy is to make it very simple for companies to come in, set up and establish themselves here, typically we can onboard a new tenant within four weeks from initial enquiry and have done so recently with companies like AEP Global and Asco,” said Ian Pease, business development manager at OrbisEnergy.

A home from home

But OrbisEnergy is so much more than just office accommodation. An important facet of the building’s ecosystem is its virtual tenant service.

The Virtual Innovation and Incubation Programme (VIP) offers a presence at OrbisEnergy without making the commitment to office space, which is ideal for early-stage start-ups, international businesses and supply chain companies that provide wider services to the sector.

VIP tenants benefit from an address at OrbisEnergy, a monthly allocation to meeting rooms and an impressive boardroom, plus access to a reception service and call and mail handling.

“Our VIP tenancy adds an important string to our bow and is increasingly popular as companies work differently and maybe don’t need a fully serviced office,” said Ian. “Our VIPs also get to come to our regular sector networking events, which is an important element of the offer.”

Eastern Daily Press:  Ian Pease, business development manager at OrbisEnergy Ian Pease, business development manager at OrbisEnergy (Image: OrbisEnergy)

Catapult your ambitions

A critically important function of a successful innovation and incubation hub is the advice and access to funding it can give to businesses to help commercialise their innovative ideas and deploy new products or services into new markets.

OrbisEnergy is the East of England base for the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult. In 2023, Suffolk County Council, Norfolk County Council, Essex County Council, RWE and the ORE Catapult joined forces to establish the first East of England ORE Catapult Launch Academy, an award-winning technology acceleration programme.

Imogen Stevenson, regional innovation manager at ORE Catapult said: “It’s fantastic to see the huge amount of talent and innovation emerging from the East of England, which will play a vital role in supporting the significant offshore wind industry in the region and beyond.”

The East of England Launch Academy is driven by challenges provided by industry sponsors and provides value by delivering a diverse variety of “modules” to a cohort of nine companies from Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, which were selected through a rigorous application process based on their potential to win contracts in the offshore wind sector.

Eastern Daily Press: The boardroom at OrbisEnergy in Lowestoft, SuffolkThe boardroom at OrbisEnergy in Lowestoft, Suffolk (Image: OrbisEnergy)

The East of England’s ‘clean energy clubhouse’

Described recently by a prominent industry figure as the East of England’s “clean energy clubhouse”, OrbisEnergy continues to wow visitors from far and wide who come to take part in management away days, business breakfasts, client meetings or to attend nationally significant conferences.

Available for hire to businesses and organisations from all sectors, the architecturally stunning conference room has far reaching views over the North Sea and is famed for its proximity to the most easterly part of the UK, Ness Point.

Comfortably accommodating up to 200 delegates, with break-out meeting rooms and modern connectivity and AV equipment, OrbisEnergy hosts gatherings from a diverse range of orgainisations including the NHS, voluntary organisations, Coastal Partnership East, Sizewell C Supply Chain and EEEGR’s annual Wind Energy Week conference.

For smaller meetings, the OrbisEnergy board room offers an impressive backdrop for client meetings, candidate interviews or important management meetings, away from the distractions of the office.

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Read more about the East of England’s energy industry in the latest issue of Insight Energy.