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Published 4th Apr 2012

Jonathan Belch

The first resident to outgrow a facility aimed at nurturing new business and boosting graduate retention has named the facility a resounding success.

IT entrepreneur Jonathan P Belch is moving out of Bohouse, Erimus Housing’s complex of 20 live/work units in Middlesbrough, because the development has allowed his companies to rapidly expand.

Jonathan, a dad-of-four, is now moving his businesses, Zubedo and Web Innov8, to larger commercial premises in the town, giving Bohouse its first turnover of residents.

And prospective residents are waiting on the sidelines as the innovative development continues to attract a high level of interest.

Jonathan said: “Bohouse has been horrendously successful. It really has transformed the area and is something to be extremely proud of.”

Jonathan is one of three co-founders, as well as an investor and board member of Zubedo, a low cost digital media portal which enables people to commercially market, publish, license, protect and monetise their digital media assets across the globe.

His second project, Web Innov8, allows users to build websites and other online platforms without the need for investing in server hardware. They only pay for what they use and need very little technical or programming knowledge.

He added: “Without this facility, Zubedo would have had to leave the area and I just don’t think Innov8 would have happened.”

He now wants to set up more incubation units to help graduates with their initial business ideas.

Erimus Housing received funding from the Homes and Communities Agency, the national body providing funding for affordable housing across the country, to create Bohouse, which is enabling graduates and other people from creative and digital industries to stay in the area and start up businesses of their own.

The one and two bedroom units provide live and work space in one apartment at an affordable rent.

The scheme is part of the Boho Zone which forms part of the acclaimed DigitalCity development, a creative quarter in the heart of the town.

Chris Smith, Managing Director of Erimus Housing, said: “The whole ethos behind Bohouse is to help graduates and others set up their businesses by living and working in one affordable unit until they are ready to move on.”

“This is fantastic news as people moving out into larger premises shows the success of Bohouse.”

Monica Burns, North East lead manager for the National Housing Federation, said: “This innovative project demonstrates the great work housing associations are capable of in assisting people in setting up their own business enterprises.

"This work is absolutely vital in the current economic climate when unemployment is so high in the North East. The National Housing Federation plans to use the Bohouse model by Erimus Housing as a best practice example nationally."

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