Connect Derby Works Alongside DSP Interiors on The Relocation of Three Businesses to Make Way for The New Nuclear Skills Academy

Connect Derby has worked alongside fit-out specialists DSP (Interiors) Ltd to relocate three local businesses from the iHub innovation centre on Infinity Park to make way for the new Nuclear Skills Academy.

The team at DSP (Interiors) Ltd have carried out the design and fit-out of four new units for previous iHub tenants Composite Braiding Ltd, HPS Ltd and Addqual Ltd on Ivygrove Developments’ new Dunstall Park Road estate, off Ascot Drive in the city.

Connect Derby and Derby City Council were a key partner in delivering the Nuclear Skills Academy at the iHub. This included supporting existing iHub tenants Composite Braiding, HPS and Addqual to find alternative accommodation.

DSP’s role was to fit out four individual speculative units – two units for Composite Braiding, and one unit each for HPS and Addqual – at Dunstall Park Road. The speed in which both the designs and builds could be undertaken were crucial to the success of this Academy project, which is the first of its kind in the UK.

DSP’s vast experience in designing, managing, and installing turnkey projects of this nature was essential to meet the extremely tight timescales required. To achieve this the three projects were undertaken in tandem; taking into consideration the needs of each company to design a bespoke facility for each individual business. 

Composite Braiding specialise in thermoplastic composite braiding technology and needed a facility to enable them to scale up their operations. Heating and plumbing specialists HPS Ltd required a workplace to accommodate both their office and site-based activities. Manufacturing services business Addqual needed a workspace to support their continued growth.  

All the units, which were core base build units, required extensive fit outs to suit each client’s individual operations. Each unit required a mezzanine floor installing to provide additional space including all supporting fixtures and fittings such as fire rating, suspended ceilings, partitions, flooring, decoration, toilets, kitchens and more.

In addition, DSP undertook the design and installation of all the mechanical, electrical and plumbing services required including air-conditioning, ventilation, lighting, fire alarms, intruder alarms, power, data and so on. 

Ann Bhatti, head of Connect Derby, who managed the relocation project for Derby City Councill, said:

“We extend our heartfelt appreciation to Andy and his team for their exceptional work on the three fit-out projects. Their unwavering professionalism was evident throughout the entire process.

“They played a crucial role in addressing various challenges, demonstrating their expertise gained from their extensive experience in past construction and fit-out projects. Their guidance and solutions were invaluable.”

Andy Priestley, director of DSP (Interiors) Ltd, added:

“We were delighted to be selected by Derby City Council to carry out the design and fit outs for Composite Braiding, HPS and Addqual at Dunstall Park Road. Our dedicated team has worked closely with all three businesses to create spaces that align with their vision and provide a functional and visually appealing home for them and their staff.”

“The new premises at Dunstall Park Road will provide each business with the ideal foundation to drive their continued growth.”

Steve Barbour, managing director of Composite Braiding, said:

“Thanks go out to everyone at DSP Interiors for carrying out a first-rate job. Their expertise, attention to detail and understanding of our specific requirements has turned an empty shell into a building which will be able to accommodate our future growth.”

Peter Dashey, director of HPS, added:

“We are delighted with the facility that the empty shell has become and would recommend DSP to any business looking to developing their premises into a dynamic space, with thought to efficiency of space and layout.”

DSP Interiors is a multi-award-winning design and fit-out company that has been providing bespoke interior design and professional fit-out services for more than 35 years. The company works across the Midlands and beyond and has built up an enviable client list.

Connect Derby and Derby City Council win Here for Derby Award!

Connect Derby and Derby City Council have won the prestigious Delivering for Derby award at this year’s We’re Here For Derby Awards.

The awards ceremony, which was held earlier this month, celebrated the best of Derby’s services that benefit the local community.

We won the award for our partnership work to deliver the Rolls-Royce Nuclear Skills Academy at the iHub, where we helped to relocate existing iHub businesses to make way for 200 apprentices each year for 10 years, creating a dedicated pipeline of young talent for this fast-growing sector.

Based at the iHub in Derby, the Nuclear Skills Academy is a partnership between the University of Derby and Rolls-Royce and is supported by industry and education experts, including the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, the National College for Nuclear and Derby City Council.

The Connect Derby team worked at pace to vacate 50% of the building, with 16 office-based businesses moved in just eight weeks to allow the University six weeks of refurbishment time before they accepted their first set of apprentices in September 2022.

Due to our team’s exceptionally hard work, the relocation of all iHub tenants was met by the April 2023 deadline and operational building handover was given to the University of Derby.

A huge congrats to both teams – Connect Derby’s Ann Bhatti, Syd Holland and Kirandeep Kaur and Derby City Council’s Joanna Rees and Mark Lowe.

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Create Finance Wins Prestigious Industry Award

Specialist Derby-based mortgage broker Create Finance have been awarded the title of Mortgage Broker of the Year at the Mortgage Strategy Awards 2023.

The company, which is based at Connect Derby’s Friar Gate Studios, scooped the coveted award at a ceremony which took place at the JW Marriot Grosvenor House Hotel in London.

Create Finance beat off competition from fellow mortgage brokers Coreco, Connect Mortgages, Mortgage 1st, The Mortgage Mum and The Mortgage Store to win the award, which is widely acknowledged as the pinnacle of success in the UK mortgage industry.

The company was founded in 2015 by experienced mortgage broker Gindy Mathoon, who set up the business at Connect Derby’s Riverside Chambers.

In 2018, Create Finance relocated to the managed workspace’s Shot Tower building before relocating to Friar Gate Studios in 2022.

The move came as a result of the company’s significant growth, with a 23 strong team of brokerage moving into the headquarters of the Connect Derby scheme.

Create Finance are a specialist mortgage brokerage which works with a range of customers who are struggling to find a mortgage – from the self-employed, contractors and professionals to people with adverse credit ratings and are first time buyers. They are often able to help clients to obtain a mortgage where other banks and brokers have failed.

The company has the most 5-star Google reviews of any Derbyshire mortgage broker and has been awarded a Feefo platinum award for their outstanding customer care.

Commenting on the award, Gindy Mathoon, senior mortgage broker at Create Finance, said:

“This accolade is testament to the hard work and dedication of our team. Create Finance will be celebrating its eighth birthday this year, so to be recognised as the best the industry has to offer is a real celebration of all we have worked for.

“The future looks very bright, and we look forward to expanding our already excellent staff and taking the whole team with us on this brilliant journey.’

Ann Bhatti, head of Connect Derby, added:

“Massive congratulations to Gindy and his team for winning this fantastic national award.

“To be named Mortgage Broker of the Year is a tremendous accolade and is testament to all the company’s hard work over the past eight years as a Connect Derby tenant. We would like to wish them every success for the future.”

Judges at The Mortgage Strategy awards, added:

“Widely recognised as the ‘Oscars’ of the mortgage industry, the accolades are not awarded lightly. Several rounds of shortlisting take place before a selection of expert judges’ comb through each entry to decide on a winner.

“A culmination of all the hard work and effort made by the industry over the past twelve months, the rigorous judging process associated with the Awards ensures that winning one of the 28 categories really is a mark of excellence.”

Connect Derby Launches New Pay as You Go Offices

Connect Derby has introduced a new flexible Pay As You Go office package for SMEs, sole traders and entrepreneurs who want a professional office space without committing to a full-time office rental.

The offices have been introduced in response to market demand post-Brexit and post-Covid and aim to support businesses who are facing increasing costs across their operation due to the cost-of-living crisis.

The flexible office day packages are ideal for businesses who may have downsized and want a professional office space for up to four people for one weekday from 9.00am – 5.00pm. The new day package will initially be introduced at our Friar Gate Studios headquarters and is set to be rolled out to other workspaces in the coming months. Offices will be fully furnished offices with desks and chairs and will also include complimentary coffee and tea.

Businesses who take a day package will receive the same benefits as a full-time Connect Derby tenant and will have access to a range of services and facilities, including complimentary wi-fi, on-site showers, bike storage, reception services, on-site café and the use of seminar and meeting rooms (charges apply). Business rates, maintenance and BID levy is also included in the price.

Connect Derby remains the city’s leading managed workspace provider and continues to innovate as it helps businesses face the new challenges presented by the evolving nature of the world of work.

As well as pay as you go offices, we also offer fully furnished offices at our six workspaces across the city, which are available to rent on a one or three year lease term. Hybrid offices were recently introduced and allow businesses to occupy a hybrid office for up to three days a week, with another business occupying the space on the remaining days.

Commenting on the launch of Pay As You Go offices, Ann Bhatti, head of Connect Derby, said:

“We’re excited to be introducing Pay As You Go offices to our flagship Friar Gate Studios headquarters. Since the pandemic, we’ve introduced a number of new, flexible ways of working to support businesses who are adjusting to the new world of work.

“Businesses have shifted their ways of working, with many of them preferring to work from home or other remote locations. Our new Pay As You Go offices are ideal for businesses looking for an office base one day a week at an affordable price.”

Day package costs £50 + VAT. Anyone booking 10 days in a Pay As You Go office will receive an additional full day of office use free of charge.

For further information about Pay As You Go offices, visit and complete the enquiry form, call Sonia Kang on 258300 or email

Connect Derby Launches Hybrid Office Scheme

Connect Derby, the city’s primary managed workspace provider, has launched a new hybrid office scheme for businesses who enjoy the flexibility of working from home and the office.

The new schemeis aimedat businesses looking for quality office accommodation for up to three days every week.

Hybrid offices will be available for businesses who want to ease their way back into the workplace after working from home or new start-ups who are looking for a base for their business without the additional expenditure.

Businesses will be able to occupy a hybrid office at Friar Gate Studios or Sadler Bridge Studios for up to three days per week. They will occupy the same office on the same days each week on an initial 12-month contract. Another business will occupy the space on the remaining days.

The aim of the hybrid offices scheme is to provide flexibility, reduce costs and give businesses greater opportunities for collaboration and networking.

Businesses who opt for the hybrid working package will receive the same benefits as a full-time Connect Derby tenant and will have access to a range of services and facilities, including an on-site café, business support and mentoring, plus the use of seminar and meeting rooms.

The move has come as more businesses rethink their accommodation strategies and decide whether to give up their permanent office space in favour of a mix of remote and office working.

Connect Derby remains the city’s leading managed workspace provider and continues to innovate as it helps businesses face the new challenges presented by the evolving nature of the world of work.

As well as hybrid offices, it also offers fully furnished offices at its six workspaces across the city, which are available to rent on a one or three year lease term. 

Commenting on the launch of the hybrid offices, Ann Bhatti, head of Connect Derby, said:

“We’re excited to be introducing hybrid offices at our flagship Friar Gate Studios workspace. Over the past couple of years, we’ve introduced a number of new, flexible ways of working to support businesses as they navigate the new world of work.

“The increase in remote working since the pandemic has encouraged a shift in the working environment, prompting businesses to rethink their accommodation strategies. By introducing our hybrid package, we aim to encourage a diverse range of businesses into the city and support the local economy.

“We look forward to welcoming new businesses to Connect Derby and providing them with the support they need to help their business thrive.”

Connect Derby Gets The Seal Of Approval In Business Community Survey

Connect Derby, the city’s leading managed workspace provider, has published the results of its 2023 business community survey.

The annual survey measures the levels of service Connect Derby provides across all areas of its operation – from the quality of its workspaces and IT services to security and operational communication.

This year, the survey focused heavily on how Connect Derby has helped its 200 plus tenants in what has been a challenging year for the economy and businesses across the UK.

Connect Derby received an 88% response rate from office tenants surveyed across the six diverse buildings in its portfolio – Friar Gate Studios, Kings Chambers, Sadler Bridge Studios, Marble Hall, Riverside Chambers, and Shot Tower.

A massive 91% of respondents said communications from the management team met or exceeded their expectations.

85% of respondents reported that Connect Derby meets or exceeds their expectations for the support it provides with help from the business support team.

The management team have continued to provide small and medium enterprises across the city with valuable support, guidance and sign-posting to grant funding, training and professional advice.

85% of tenants said Connect Derby meets or exceeds their expectations, with 85% saying they would recommend Connect Derby to other businesses looking for managed workspace in the city.

Connect Derby has been supporting tenants over the past 12 months by offering new and flexible ways of working.

Furnished offices are available across all workspaces, and were introduced in response to the changing working environment brought on by the pandemic. In the coming months, there are plans to launch hybrid offices which will allow businesses to occupy the space they want for up to three days a week.

83% of respondents said Connect Derby workspaces were clean, safe, and secure buildings to work in. 80% of businesses said the IT network, internet access and Wi-Fi services meets or exceeds their expectations.

Connect Derby offers all tenants superfast Wi-Fi and telephony services allowing businesses to communicate with customers effectively. This has been particularly valuable to businesses who need to communicate with staff who are working from home.

Commenting on this year’s survey results, Ann Bhatti, head of Connect Derby, said:

“The last 12 months have been extremely challenging for businesses and the UK economy, so we’re really pleased to have received such positive service ratings.

“I’d like to thank all tenants for being honest in their assessment of our services. We’re committed to providing all our tenants with the highest possible levels of services and support and will continue to work with businesses to help with their recovery in any way we can.

“There are always areas where we can improve, so we will be working with our suppliers and internal council services in the coming months to make improvements where necessary.

“We’ve received a high level of quality enquiries from businesses across a diverse range of sectors, many of who have taken space at Connect Derby.”

The multi-million Connect Derby project includes seven managed workspaces and provides SMEs, micro businesses and entrepreneurs with the high specification working environment, IT infrastructure and business support they need to act as a catalyst for expansion and growth.

For further information about the Connect Derby portfolio of buildings, contact Sonia Kang on 01332 742800, email

Connect Derby’s 2022 Annual Review

Connect Derby’s 2022 Annual Review is live!

Our annual review provides an insight into what we have achieved over the past 12 months.

There is a foreword from Paul Simpson, CEO of Derby City Council, who gives an overview of our activities.

This is followed by an executive summary from head of Connect Derby, Ann Bhatti, who discusses how her team are helping businesses face the challenges presented by the evolving nature of the world of work.

This year’s review focuses heavily on how Connect Derby is continuing to lead the way in the managed workspace sector and support SMEs across the city.

Over the past 12 months, Connect Derby has continued to innovate. Since April 2022, a diverse range of businesses have made a home for their business at one of the six managed workspaces across the city.

You’ll be able to find out more about how Connect Derby has helped to bring the exciting new Nuclear Skills Academy to the iHub.

There’s also a special feature on the Connect Derby Cafés at Friar Gate Studios, Sadler Bridge Studios, Riverside Chambers and Marble Hall.

Cactus Images Expand to New Studio Space

After more than a decade of success at Connect Derby managed workspaces, commercial photography studio Cactus Images has expanded to new premises in the city.

The company was founded in 2008 by Angela Jenkins and Chris Howard, who met when they were studying for a degree in commercial photography at University of Derby. Cactus Images started life at the university’s Banks Mill creative studios, before joining Connect Derby’s Friar Gate Studios in 2010.

Since then, both Cactus Images and Connect Derby have gone from strength to strength. By 2016, Cactus Images had outgrown its studio space at Friar Gate Studios and expanded to the penthouse suite at the iconic Marble Hall, which is also part of the Connect Derby portfolio of managed workspaces.

Cactus Images work with a broad client base, including Fujifilm, World of Sweets, and Royal Crown Derby.

Following another sustained period of growth, Cactus has now outgrown any available space at the six Connect Derby managed workspaces and has relocated to a new 3,500 sq. ft studio on Gresham Road in Allenton, just minutes away from their previous premises.

Angela and Chris have also expanded their team. Charlie Valentine, also a University of Derby alumni with a first class honours degree in Commercial Photography, joins the studio after working as a fashion photographer since 2021. In her new role as studio co-ordinator and assistant, Charlie will help organise the studio, liaise with clients, and assist on photoshoots. 

During their time at Connect Derby, Cactus Images established itself as one the region’s leading commercial photography and post-production studios, with a reputation for its ability to translate its clients’ ideas into dynamic images.

As the business has developed, Angela and Chris have expanded the range of services they offer to support and strengthen their photography projects and now provide creative planning, prop sourcing, styling and set builds.

Speaking of the move and the help and support the business has received from Ann Bhatti and her team over the past 12 plus years, Angela said:

“When we joined Connect Derby in 2010, we were new to business and were unsure of what would come next for us. Connect Derby provided us with a studio space that met all our needs, and most importantly created an environment for our business to grow and succeed.

“The help and support that the Connect Derby team, particularly Ann, have given us over the years has been invaluable and we will always be grateful. It is sad to leave, but this is an important step in Cactus Images’ development – and we will still pop in to Marble Hall for a cup of tea with the team!”

Ann Bhatti, head of Connect Derby, added:

“It is with a mixture of a heavy heart and immense pride that we have to say goodbye to Angela and Chris after a wonderful 12 years plus with Connect Derby.

“They’ve been fantastic tenants and are a great example of what a company can achieve with the right infrastructure and the range of business support and mentoring that is available through Connect Derby.

“I look forward to catching up with them soon in their new premises once they’re settled in.”