£1 billion Golden Valley tech park reaches new milestone

As work continues apace to make Gloucestershire the official cyber capital of the UK, SoGlos speaks to the man leading the project and asks about the journey of setting up technology innovation campuses in Berlin, Lisbon and now Cheltenham.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published
Jeremy Bamberg, of HBDXFactory, is leading the development of the Golden Valley Development beside GCHQ near Cheltenham.

The story of how the £1 billion Golden Valley Development in Gloucestershire will unfold over the next few months is a ‘once in a lifetime development’.

Jeremy Bamberg, the face of Berlin-based Factory, one half of the joint venture company that will head up the project, is under no illusions that the potential impact of the cyber tech park to the west of Cheltenham will be transformational.

His business has partnered with UK developer HBD to create HBDXFactory which will oversee the Cheltenham Borough Council-led project.

Comprising of 3,700 homes and a 160,000 square feet innovation centre and cyber tech park on 200 acres, once complete, it will make Gloucestershire the official cyber capital of the UK creating an estimated 12,000 new jobs.

‘I would be surprised if there is a bigger project in Gloucestershire in the next four to five decades,’ said Bamberg, whose enthusiasm for the scheme is driven by his desire to understand what sort of community businesses want.

‘This is not about ‘over to you Jeremy, do your thing’. There was already a huge ecosystem here before I arrived and it will happen whether I am here or not.

‘My role is to listen to all of the businesses and partners and create something that allows that ecosystem to flourish and grow,’ said Bamberg, whose company designs, builds and operates campuses for start-ups and fast-growing tech companies.

He has forged good working relationships with the local authority and those behind Cheltenham cyber workplace Hub8 as well as the influential CyNam (Cyber Cheltenham) group, which includes the most influential names in the sector in or outside Gloucestershire – names expected to take up residence on the new development.

In April 2023, he will lead a party from that community to Cyber UK in Belfast. It will be one of a number of such visits helping join the dots, raising the county’s profile and spreading the word about the Golden Valley Development.

It is the same 360-degree approach Factory took to create what is known as Factory Lisbon and Factory Berlin 'campuses' which also saw his team first understand the communities they were aiming to attract before any work began on the ground.

‘When we did the Berlin project we really focused on the community and asked what sort of neighbourhood we wanted to create. Fast forward to Lisbon, we had learned a lot and were able to take advantage of that in a really successful way.

‘When I tell people about the Cheltenham project, they initially raise an eyebrow. When I explain it is the biggest project of the three – bigger than Lisbon or Berlin – that is when they get it,’ said Bamberg, whose own story – from America to his home in Finland via India and Berlin – would also make for an interesting read.

But for now Bamberg is focused on the Golden Valley Development, and will begin telling the ongoing story in regular installments online from March 2023 on a new Factory Cheltenham website.

The Golden Valley Development is a Cheltenham Borough Council project, with key partners including Tewkesbury Borough Council; Gloucestershire County Council; several government departments and the county’s local enterprise partnership, GFirst LEP, which has GFirst LEP has already delivered £22 million of investment to improve transport infrastructure surrounding site.

This development also forms a key part of the government’s National Cyber Strategy and levelling-up plans.

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