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Chinook Sciences UK office doubling its workforce and expanding into a new Eco friendly iconic building
October 12th, 2010


Chinook Sciences UK office doubling its workforce and expanding into a new Eco friendly iconic building.

A waste-to-energy company is set to more than double its Nottingham workforce after moving into 15,000 sq ft of Grade A office space at Blueprint's No.1 Nottingham Science Park.

Chinook Sciences Ltd, inventors and developers of an industrial renewable energy technology called RODECS, has agreed to take most of the available space in the south wing at the sustainable development in University Boulevard.

Chinook, currently based in Park Row, has signed a five-and-half-year lease and is set to increase its workforce from 45 to 90 within the next 12 months on the basis of anticipated demand for its recycling technology as local authorities seek alternatives to landfilling waste.

Chinook's process differs from conventional recycling in that it does not use incineration, instead employing a gasification process which means metal residues can be recovered.

"The biggest driver in the market is going to be the need to reduce landfill, especially since European legislation means that landfill tax will keep increasing over the coming years," said Paul Riley, senior manager at Chinook.

Chinook's expansion into No.1 Nottingham Science Park comes just three months after Chinese car maker Changan also set up its European R&D centre at Blueprint's high-visibility striped green building.

With Chinook's presence the development will be 80% full – a turnaround from the position over a year ago when the science park was almost empty and suffering the impact of a UK economy mired in deep recession.

Twelve months on and Blueprint's science park is almost full, with six tenants in the environmental technology sector. Blueprint sales and marketing director John Long said the success was a vindication of Blueprint's original vision for a sustainable science park and a reflection of the health of Nottingham's growing 'green-tech' business sector.

"In 18 months we've done six deals and we've kept faith with this building," he said. "We started designing No.1 Nottingham Science Park in 2006 at a time when people weren't building energy-efficient green buildings on this scale.

"There wasn't the interest in iconic design and the science park was seen as hugely risky. People didn't get it and there was even a bit of sniggering. Then the recession came.

"But we always said 'when the good times return and businesses start looking at property again they will get it' – and that is what has happened. And I think the recession has even helped us, because having a low-energy building which keeps your bills down is probably more attractive than ever."

Chinook Sciences is a US-based company with its head office in Cranford, New Jersey. Headed by CEO and chairman Dr Rifat Chalabi, the business invented and developed RODECS, its patented industrial recycling technology, which is used globally.

The technology is a non-incineration, thermally-efficient and environmentally safe system to process a wide range of 'end stage' waste materials, recovering the energy to produce steam which is used to generate electricity, which is then exported to the grid.

Since the system uses gasification, rather than incineration, metals from processed materials can be recovered from the residue and recycled. "If you were processing shredded car waste, for example, the metals such as copper in the wiring can be recovered for recycling," said Mr Riley.

The company is building the world's largest waste gasification plant in Liverpool in partnership with European Metal Recycling. This 30MW plant, capable of processing 160,000 tonnes of waste per year, is being designed, engineered and project-managed from Nottingham.

Anticipation of future contracts like this, as local authorities seek to keep industrial waste out of landfill, lies behind Chinook's decision to expand into Blueprint's science park.

"We can see that out biggest growth will be in the UK," Mr Riley added. "This is why we have taken a 5.5 year contract on the new office. The science park also fits in with our ethos of being an environmentally-friendly company."

After processing, only 5% of the waste will remains as a sterile, inert residue and the company is seeking a use for this as an aggregate.

Nick Dunn, partner at NG Chartered Surveyors, which represented Chinook, said that Chinook had been searching for suitable offices around the Nottingham area for some time.

"The difficulty has been that the company is fast expanding and their needs have evolved," he said. "No.1 Nottingham Science Park ticked all the right boxes; it fits in with Chinook's image and they have the option to take an additional 5,000 sq ft in addition to the 15,000 sq ft, which gives them the safety net to grow if they need it."

Chinook is now also looking for an additional R&D facility close to the science park, which will bring 10 more jobs.

The lease agreement between Chinook and Blueprint was signed just three weeks after negotiations were opened in mid-August, Blueprint's lawyers being instructed by John Long from a hotel room in San Francisco on the first day of his summer holidays.

Chris Sinclair, of Innes England, who represented Blueprint, added: "Three weeks to reach an agreement is a very quick deal in this business. Chinook wanted to start occupancy from November 1 so they counted back the weeks to give them enough time for the office fit-out. It's a testament to the team involved, including the lawyers, that agreement was reached so quickly and smoothly."

John Long said he wants to help build a sense of community among all the tenants, and help them connect to green-tech business networks being developed in Nottingham.

"The sense of community is the added value of being a tenant here," he said. "We want to encourage the cross-pollination of ideas and encourage tenants to discover the synergies of working on this science park.''

Article featured on - 12th October 2010