Dartford Hill Hub development plans for ‘mini silicon valley’ take shape with Kent Foundation partnership
Developers behind plans for Dartford‘s “mini Silicon Valley” have teamed up with a charity to offer business support for aspiring young entrepreneurs across Kent.
The Hill Hub development will see the former West Hill Police Station in Highfield Road turned into a new co-working space for entrepreneurs, freelancers and start ups.
Work to transform the former cop shop and adjoining magistrates’ court is edging closer towards completion with revised plans to open next month.
In the meantime entrepreneurs behind the project have partnered with Kent Foundation, a charity offering free business advice and mentoring to young entrepreneurs and business owners in the county aged 30 and under.
Every young business owner accessing support from Foundation will be assigned a trained business mentor to support them on a regular basis.
In addition to mentoring, the partnership provides opportunities for businesses to connect, collaborate and support one another.
This will be spearheaded through “Mastermind” and “Masterclass” sessions where mentees can learn from peers, sector experts and specialists to help develop ideas and good working practices.
Could this former cell be your next office?
Director of The Kent Foundation, Stuart Tanton, said: “This is a really exciting opportunity for The Kent Foundation to be involved with such an ambitious initiative in Dartford.
“Our partnership with The Hill Hub and the support we will be able to provide existing businesses in the area, as well as new start-up businesses will be great for the local area, as well as the local economy.
“We are very much looking forward to becoming part of the local business support network in Dartford, with a real emphasis on not just supporting new businesses in the area, but making Dartford an even greater place to stay in business.”
It is hoped the scheme will pave the way for a tech hub where young people can come together to learn and share ideas.
“This is a thriving place – what we have in Dartford is a mini Silicon Valley,” says Sanmi Adegoke, chief executive of The Hill Hub and Rehoboth International.
“We are particularly excited about delivering this opportunity at a time when the town was undergoing a period of huge change with two major residential projects in the works.”
The pandemic has forced many employers to adjust with workers staying away from the office following the government’s “work from home” message
And while some employees able to do so have welcomed more flexible working patterns, others have bemoaned the lack of human contact.
Sanmi hopes the reimagining of the former prison space will unlock its potential as a Covid-19 secure space for those seeking an alternative when safe to do so.
“This is really where you want to be,” said Sanmi. “In-house we are going to have an incubator fund to support businesses, we are going to have a business development programme to help support businesses post-Covid.”
The Hill Hub’s incubation programme will feature business mentoring, workshops, and investment opportunities.
Networking events are also planned to allow business owners to showcase and connect to the wider Dartford and Kent business community.
The development had originally set a completion date for October but will now open on January 11.