An Innovationary – every town should have one

Bathtub 2: a compact co-working condominium in the heart of the City
with intriguing laterals: a FabLab below, a change-your-life lab above, and an arts incubator-to-be across the road. If ever there was a co-working space whose different components were mutually self-supportive, this is it!

The Bathtub is a co-working space for early stage startups in ‘Everyman Businesses’ with an emphasis on job creation – in fields including ‘doing’ and ‘making’ and not just IT. The second of its kind, it has 130 desk spaces on the first two floors of 1 Frederick’s Place (EC2), with some desks butted up to accommodate teams of up to six people. The majority are for allocated to permanent users and the balance for hot-desk users. There are also some small meeting rooms and board rooms.

The ground floor is occupied by Bathtub 2 Boardroom’s partners FabLab London, one of a growing number of mini prototyping laboratories worldwide, a concept born in MIT. Its founders have furnished their space with a materials lab and the latest equipment such as a laser cutter and 3D printers and have given space over to The RSA’s “Great Recover Programme”, which focuses on design innovation that encompasses environmental concerns. Besides being useful to the likes of the Bathtub’s online retailer of bespoke wedding rings, who use it to send clients 3D rings to try on, it is looking to offer residences for other maker start-ups in small studios within the Lab.

On the third floor is The Escape School, an enterprise from Escape The City that aims to help people with “the life, career and start-up education you never had at school”. Located in the heart of the Square Mile, it is well placed just now to find customers, as it is to provide candidates for startups on the floors below.

Over the road, there will be a collection of small charities working in the performing arts, an incubator in another field – with eminent trustees.

Bathtub 2 has a big kitchen, which makes for chance meetings and chance conversations. Events are run regularly (in addition to those being run upstairs and downstairs); there are over a dozen mentors with whom you can make contact; and Scrub Club sessions provide opportunities for peer-to-peer problem-solving.

Bathtub 2 is the work of entrepreneur Paddy Willis, whose mantra might be: co-location, co-adventure, and co-inclusiveness! The accommodation is provided on a peppercorn rent from the Mercers’ Livery Company and is Grade II listed, though the area is due for redevelopment. It was refurbished with help from a £150k loan from Trust For London. It now employs five staff, the latest of whom – the new manager – last ran a noisy roof-top bar in Dalston – an ideal background for Paddy’s biggest challenge, that of getting people to spark off one another. After 8 months the charity is now profitable and busily looking for a new marketing manager, whilst Paddy is looking to replicate this wonderfully eclectic conglomerate in other suitable locations away from London.

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