How NTU’s Dryden Enterprise Centre are Making a Home For the Future of Work

Words: Adam Pickering
Tuesday 15 November 2022
reading time: min, words

The world of work is a fast-changing place, and a lot of people are rethinking the old nine-five office-based life. Leading the way forward, we check out co-working, co-location, and city centre business hub, Nottingham Trent University's Dryden Enterprise Centre…


Over the last decade or so, Nottingham has seen a proliferation of co-working spaces, and we increasingly hear about all sorts of people using them. An increasingly flexible, dislocated post-pandemic workforce are looking for a sense of community and collaboration. 

One of the latest, and certainly amongst the most high tech, is Dryden Enterprise Centre (DEC). Home to the NTU Enterprise team who have been, as they put it, “helping ideas grow since 2001”, the centre is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Offering a range of flexible options including co-working, but also “co-location” - permanent office space that can be scaled up or down to suit your business’ growth - and events, workshops and socials that are open to the wider community, it also links powerful backing and access to the extensive resources of one of the most industry savvy universities in the country.

But it’s not all about what goes on inside the building, it’s also about the work the NTU Enterprise team do supporting business in the local community. One such business they’ve supported is eco-conscious food and homeware beacon Shop Zero. Sarah Maloy, founder of Shop Zero explains “NTU Enterprise has been with me right from the very start. I was helped by The Hive, now NTU Enterprise, back in 2018 when I was just starting. They helped me investigate what focus my business should take. They were able to help me look at finances, and I recently completed the BreakThrough business support programme, which I would thoroughly recommend.”


On the building itself, the DEC’s Space and Community Manager Katrina Starkie explains, “We’re working towards BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) ‘Excellent’ status, which means we are in the top 10% of new non-domestic buildings for our energy use and waste. We have a thermal heat recovery system for heating and cooling, solar panels and clever design features like high levels of insulation, LED lighting, low flush toilets and room sensors that detect when spaces are empty so lights automatically switch off.” 

Yet that’s not all that makes it a bit special. “We also have a number of features to support the wellbeing of our members, including sound batons, daylight bulbs and air filters.” Hold on, what are sound batons? “The sound batons are the attenuation in the space, it reduces any echo and disturbance for people so they can work quietly but also not worry that they're disturbing other members if they make a call or have a meeting in shared spaces.” With passes beeping resident staffers into their offices and breakout area of choice, it feels pretty sophisticated, with a hint of MI5, but it’s soothing to see happy-looking plants and friendly furnishings soften the edges.

We thought we’d better get the lowdown from some of the businesses using the space to see how the shoe fits…


First up is Ketchup Marketing’s Olivia Henderson, Creative Content Manager and Lucy Goodwin, Head of Design.

Tell us about Ketchup Marketing… 
Olivia: Ketchup was founded thirteen years ago, and we're really a full service marketing agency. I’m still quite new, but I absolutely love it here. I head up the copywriting, and we’ve got lots of projects going on, so it’s really exciting. I think one of our USPs is definitely heritage brands and local businesses.
Lucy: And I love having all our different departments all in one place, working together and improving each other’s output. Clients can have all the services, or just cherry pick the bits they need, and we’re all there down the line to support if needed.

What makes co-working at the DEC different from having your own office?
I think it's nice just to see different faces all day every day, have different networking events, some educational ones and get-togethers, even the welfare calls and things. You can meet all sorts of different people and see what they're doing. It's all the things that they have to offer, that community and the support. There's people to help us and there's also ways for us to help others too. So it's that little back-and-forth and can support both sides. Get help where needed and give back to people too.
Olivia: There’s a lot else on offer here, and we’ve particularly received a lot of support on our sustainability work including a grant which the DEC helped us with. I love being in the city centre location too. It's lovely to make an impact on Nottinghamshire based businesses that you've known from childhood. Belvoir Castle is one of my favourites.


We also grabbed a chat with Ed Morley, Chief Technology Officer at Lava Labs...

What do you get up to at Lava Labs?
I'm responsible for making sure that the game gets built. So all aspects of the sort of technical side, I have to build our team's designs. We’re actually making three gameplay experiences but set in one universe. The one people are most excited about is a PVP game, like Fortnite, but it’s super family-friendly. There’s no gore. We’re also doing a mining resource game. And we’re doing a social game; nowadays people would call it the metaverse, but I’m not a fan of the word.

How is Nottingham’s gaming scene looking from where you’re sitting?
I think Lava Labs being in Nottingham, with the connections we have and the funding we have is really good for the games industry in Nottingham, which is becoming quite exciting. We’ve got Sumo and Dambuster, The Multiplayer Guys, and ourselves - I think it's just good for the good for the city.

And has the DEC been a good space for you?
The key thing with the DEC is that we were able to start instantly. Once the contract was signed we could move straight in. They’ve been really helpful to the company, not just in terms of the office space, but making sure that we've got the things that we need, like additional support, and even running specific training sessions.

If you’re looking for flexible co-working space, or even somewhere to co-locate your whole business with room to grow, you can’t go far wrong checking out what’s going on at the DEC.

Find out more at Dryden Enterprise Centre’s website

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