A leading building science centre is set to create an open innovation hub designed to house innovative businesses specialising in the built environment.

Building Research Establishment (BRE) is investing in a 30,000 sq ft commercial space at its campus on the outskirts of Bricket Wood.

Due to open next spring, the scheme will involve the sustainable refurbishment of two existing buildings on the campus, which is part of Hertfordshire Innovation Quarter (IQ) - the county’s enterprise zone.

A variety of spaces and leasing options will be provided for new tenants, ranging from co-working rooms to open plan and cellular offices for rent. The spaces will be flexible, with the project taking a ‘long life, loose fit’ approach to fit-out to ensure the buildings can adapt to market demand and alternative uses in the future.

The new hub is being part-funded by a £2.2m Getting Building Fund investment from Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

BRE chief executive Gillian Charlesworth said: "The open innovation hub is an incredibly important project as we look to make a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and contend with outdated housing stock and office space that currently has far too high a carbon footprint.

"Looking at how to reduce this and contribute to the innovation of the construction sector is something that BRE is uniquely placed to advise on and we are proud to help facilitate Hertfordshire Innovation Quarter’s ambition of creating a better, greener future."

Hertfordshire IQ is an enterprise zone in Hemel Hempstead, run by seven partners including Hertfordshire LEP, Hertfordshire County Council, St Albans City and District Council, Dacorum Borough Council, BRE Group, Rothamsted Research and the University of Hertfordshire.

Richard Whitehead, chairman of Hertfordshire LEP’s enterprise zone board, said: "The open innovation hub will play a key role in strengthening Hertfordshire’s existing smart construction capabilities.

"It will provide ideal conditions for small business growth, giving tenant companies access to BRE’s unrivalled built environment expertise and vital opportunities to collaborate.

"Our investment will help to attract new businesses into the county and provide high quality employment opportunities for residents, while supporting the development of innovations and efficiencies that will have a far-reaching impact on the construction sector in the UK and beyond, helping to realise our collective ambition to build back greener post-pandemic."