Chief Executive of Real Ideas Organisation Lindsey Hall talks about launching Europe’s first of its kind Technology Hub

Launching Europe’s first of its kind technological hub this weekend, the Real Ideas Organisation look to champion innovation within the field, particularly within immersive technology. A 360 degree dome comprising of workspaces, meeting rooms and event spaces, the venue also looks to serve its local community of Plymouth. Ahead of its opening, Real Ideas Organisation’s Chief Executive Lindsey Hall tells us more about the digital focused venue.

Hi Lindsey, The Market Hall Plymouth will be launching Europe’s first of its kind technology hub in Plymouth. How are you feeling ahead of the event?

Excited, relieved, anxious – the usual mix of emotions you get before a major event. I’m certainly not sleeping much, but also absolutely delighted that despite everything, we’ve made it. It all looks amazing, we have some stunning dome content already and the building makes people smile – we just can’t wait to get the doors properly open.

A 360 degree dome, the hub is ‘a space to work, learn, meet, eat, create…’, consisting of workspaces, meeting rooms and event spaces. What has the process involved in terms of planning and creating the space?

Working with excellent, committed people who bought into the vision and used their collective skill to improve it. As well as our fab design team – LePage Architects; Classic Builders, Hemmingway Design etc – numerous others have been involved in shaping the vision. Collaboration really is the name of the game. This is a mix of organisations, including Plymouth Uni, local businesses and schools, and the local community who’ve been very generous with their time and ideas. Covid has caused issues – as it has for all of us – but in some ways being forced to reflect, think again and check back is no bad thing.

The space has been created to encourage digital innovation – in particular immersive technology. Why is this important and what can be expected from the immersive element?

The creative and digital industries are massive generators of economic growth, as well as hugely important for communities and great fun. Until the Market Hall, Plymouth has not had a creative industries hub in the way most cities do – think Watershed in Bristol for instance. However, the creative and digital industries is vast and to succeed as a hub and arguably as a city, we need a focus and specialism. Plymouth has a long history with immersive tech, largely centred on the Uni, but this has stayed in the Uni. The Market Hall makes it public, creates opportunities for individuals and businesses and will play a key role accelerating Plymouth as a well-known centre for immersive technologies. The addition of our ‘first in Europe’ state of the art immersive 360 dome means we have a unique facility other cities would die for. This is a fantastic opportunity for start and scale ups to get ahead.

For the public, the immersive element means access to dome shows – exciting new entertainment – plus workshops, activities, events and skills development opportunities.

Real Ideas ‘are an organisation passionate about finding solutions to social problems, creating and supporting real and lasting change for individuals, communities and organisations. We are innovators, change makers and risk takers.’ How have these all fed into your current project?

The short answer is ‘yes, with knobs on’. The Market Hall is a risky development that no commercial developer would touch. It is a Grade 2 listed, awkwardly shaped building, in an area of significant deprivation and regeneration.  At the moment, no other city in Europe has the immersive facilities we have. Locating these facilities in Devonport, is all about inclusive growth and making sure everyone benefits.

What have you learned/taken away from this project?

Everything takes 10 times longer than you imagine; costs at least 3 times more and you will learn about all sorts of practical and technical details you never knew existed. At the same time, the level of collaboration has been brilliant, as has the support we’ve received from all directions, especially the city council, partner organisations and ACE. Now, seeing people’s faces light up as they come into the spaces, hearing their brilliant ideas and their enthusiasm to get involved makes it more than worthwhile.

What are your hopes for the venue?

That it will become a thriving home for innovation of all sorts; a magnet for people from across the world; and a community centre that means 5 years growing up round here become world leaders in immersive tech.

Questions by Lucy Basaba.

The hub will open on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th July 2021. To find out more about the opening and the Real Ideas Organisation, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop