Start-ups offered free offices by new firm
A Scottish firm that provides accommodation to start-ups and SMEs is offering free offices, in an effort to expand using the rising trend for "co-working".
Liberty Business Centres (LBC), of Fife, runs three office complexes, and will offer 20 weeks of free accommodation in its shared offices o small businesses with less than a year's experience in the field.
LBC owner Jerry Alexander said he can house up to 15 such start-ups at his Rosyth centre, providing co-working space where small firms share space, receptions, and meeting rooms.
"I genuinely want to help as I've been through this process myself," he said. "I'm hoping we will be able to get some sponsors, but that's not going to stop us if we can't."
Alexander, who has been running centres for a decade, sees the co-working model as a potential expansion area that can help LBC expand into other parts of Scotland.
He said: "I would love us to be seen as the place to go for new starts and micro-businesses."
"We really try to create a community in centres and help to create collaborations. We run regular seminar events and networking lunches - all things that try to facilitate our clients doing business together, and improving their chances of success."
There are, however, barriers impeding immediate expansion. One such barrier is the recent changes to empty property relief rates in Scotland - when a group takes on empty offices it is immediately liable for 90 per cent of the rates on the premises - which can be higher than the rent in some city centres.
Alexander is optimistic, however: "We are looking for our fourth centre. The co-working model is growing exponentially around the world, and we would ideally like to find another premises for that model - preferably in a city centre."
"We're gaining momentum. We would like to have six centres - beyond that it would be nice to consider more but that would give us a critical mass and the ability to run those very effectively."