the start-up

The entrepreneurs taking over empty buildings as shops abandon the high street

Store closures are leaving space for start-ups to move into town centres, writes Hazel Sheffield

Wednesday 02 October 2019 17:26
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Rachel and Ian McInnes are the co-founders of Technology Box, a tech company based in a community-owned workspace in Hastings
Rachel and Ian McInnes are the co-founders of Technology Box, a tech company based in a community-owned workspace in Hastings

Hastings might be a small English seaside town but it has a wifi network to rival a smart city – thanks in part to local entrepreneurs who have turned a former office block into a state-of-the-art workspace.

In 2016 Ian McInnes, a co-founder of technology company Technology Box, was looking for new premises. He had moved the business he co-founded with his wife Rachel out of their home after they had two small children, and ended up in a co-working space called the Creative Media Centre, which had been established as a hub for IT businesses in Hastings and nearby St Leonards. But McInnes quickly became disillusioned with the space.

What he really wanted was a place to work that offered two simple services: space for his business to grow and super-fast internet. One day he met up with Jess Steele, a local activist who was involved in the campaign to save the Hastings Pier, to look round an old office building on the Trinity Triangle, a part of the town centre that has suffered from lack of investment, not long after the building had been successfully brought into community ownership under the name of Rock House.

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