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What is an incubator?

According to the European Commission:
"An incubator is a place where newly created firms are concentrated in a limited space. Its aim is to improve the chance of growth and rate of survival of these firms by providing them with a modular building with common facilities as well as with managerial support and back-up services. The main emphasis is on local development and job creation. The technology emphasis is often marginal"

What is the Normanby IDEA Centre?

The Normanby IDEA Centre is a an incubator based in Normanby Gateway managed by Zernike (UK) Limited ("Zernike"), a company which specialises, amongst other activities, in running incubators and supporting start-up businesses. Normanby Gateway is a purpose built, multi-occupancy, ICT centre located at the entrance to the Normanby Enterprise Park on the northern outskirts of Scunthorpe in North Lincolnshire. This location provides excellent access to continental Europe and the rest of the UK. It is close to Humberside Airport, on a good rail network linking to the East Coast mainline at Doncaster; and with convenient fast links to the M180, M18, M62, M1 and the Humber Bridge.

The Centre was originally sponsored by Yorkshire Forward with funding from the government's SRB scheme organised through North Lincolnshire Council's Resurgo programme. Zernike manages the IDEA Centre and all contact from prospective interested occupants should be directed to them at their Scunthorpe Office (01724 275100), their Cambridge office (01223 528980) or by email to

The aim of the Centre is to encourage small start-up businesses and so benefit the local economy of North Lincolnshire by stimulating the growth of opportunities and higher value jobs in the area. The Centre is particularly appropriate for IT based businesses or those with a high level usage of ICT although other applicants will be considered.

Physical description
Physically the IDEA Centre comprises five self-contained rooms, a common area and a meeting room. All of these rooms are grouped together on the first floor in the north west corner of Normanby Gateway. Each room is sufficiently furnished to be used immediately and the policy of Zernike will be to manage the Centre so that prospective businesses can start in the shortest possible time, with limited financial commitment and with the minimum of fuss.

Broadband internet access and a modern flexible telephone service is provided to all occupants of Normanby Gateway (including Normanby IDEA Centre) by W2 Networking Limited.

How can I join the IDEA Centre?

Candidates will be selected by Zernike on the following criteria:

  • need (ie as a start-up business)
  • suitability of the proposed business to the facilities on offer
  • availability of a space
  • prospects for graduating from the incubator / viability of business plan
  • willingness to enter into the spirit of the incubator process
The method of selection will be as follows:
  • initial informal meeting with a Zernike director or member of staff
  • visit to Normanby IDEA Centre
  • submission of application form and business plan
  • review and discussion of business plan with a Zernike director or member of staff
If successful applicants will be informed by letter and will be given a period during which they can accept the offer and sign the necessary agreements.

What exactly is on offer?

The Normanby IDEA Centre provides space, equipment, facilities and services.

The space comprises five self contained rooms each about 15 square metres (160 square feet), some common circulation space and a meeting room. The five self contained rooms each have one heater, a west facing or north facing window (room 8d has two windows) at least 12 CAT-5e sockets and at least 12 standard power outlets. They are designed to provide a good working space for one or two people with the scope to stretch to accommodate three. Each room is intended to be used as an office base. They are not suitable as workshops except in the most incidental way. Each office has a lockable door.

The meeting room is suitable for up to eight people and arrangements for its use are described under "facilities" below.

Each separate room is equipped with:

  • one desk
  • one operator chair
  • one table
  • one visitor chair
  • one drawer storage unit
  • one wall storage unit with bookshelves and filing rack
  • waste bin
  • notice board / white board
  • carpet
  • vertical blinds for the outside windows
  • venetian blinds for the internal windows
A fax machine, photocopier and document shredder are available to share. The meeting room is equipped with a flip chart as well as the obvious items of a meeting table and chairs. In addition certain other presentational equipment can be booked by IDEA Centre occupants at no charge but at their risk. These include a screen, a LCD projector and a 35mm slide projector.


Male, female and disabled toilets are available on both the first floor and the ground floor.

Shared kitchen facilities are available on both the first floor and the ground floor.

A small café area is available in the reception area. The café is intended as a place to socialise or have informal meetings. It is intended that users will limit themselves to hot and cold drinks, sandwiches and snacks. It is not intended for the consumption of hot or smelly food.

Casual seating area
A casual seating area for relaxing, reading, and for visitors or others to wait is provided in the reception area.

Normanby Gateway has a modern commercial VoiP telephone system which is operated on behalf of Zernike (UK) Limited by W2 Networking Limited. Occupants will not be permitted to have any other fixed line telephone system. Up to two telephone lines and two standard handsets are included in the licence fee. Direct dial in and out is standard.

The IDEA Centre is accessible 24 hours per day 365 days per year. More information about security and key arrangements are provided below.

Meeting room
IDEA Centre occupants are entitled to book the first floor meeting room for up to six hours per calendar month, for their own use and that of their visitors, free of charge. Any unused allocation cannot be carried forward. Additional time can be booked at the advertised rate for tenants of Normanby Gateway - currently £10 per hour.

Conference room
The ground floor conference room can be booked at the advertised rate for tenants of Normanby Gateway - currently £20 per hour.

The names of businesses using the Normanby Gateway including those in the Normanby IDEA Centre are displayed on a signboard in the reception area. There is a charge of £10 for displaying a business name when occupancy of one of the IDEA Centre suites is taken up. A similar charge of £10 is made for any subsequent change of name. Logos cannot be displayed.

Name display at suite
The suite name and the occupant's name is displayed on the glass beside the office door in a standard format. The charge for initial set up and any subsequent changes is £10.


Provided that there is reasonable usage there is no additional charge to IDEA Centre occupants for the use of electricity. Reasonable use includes setting the room heater thermostats to between (say) 15 and 21 degrees and the time switch to turn the heater off at night.

Reception desk
In the entrance area there is a reception desk that serviced during normal office hours. The receptionist answers the Normanby Gateway switchboard (01724 275000) and can make certain other arrangements for tenants such as booking the conference room and meeting room (see above), sorting incoming mail and dealing with visitors and couriers. It is not practical for the receptionist to take messages but the telephones have forwarding and voice mail. The latter can be accessed at any time from outside the building.

Mail and deliveries
Incoming mail is sorted by the receptionist who will then lay it out for collection just behind the reception desk.

Business Development and Advisory Services
Business and financial planning, business and financial management, marketing, commercialisation and general business advice and guidance are offered to IDEA Centre occupants (up to a maximum of one day per month at no additional charge) subject to arranging mutually convenient times for these services. Zernike will provide each business occupant with a mentor and all arrangements should be discussed with them. The mentor may provide the services him/herself, with or through others and individually or in a group as seems most appropriate after discussion and by mutual agreement.

What is not included?

The simple answer to what is not included is that it is everything apart from that which is explicitly included. Examples of items not included are:

  • telephone call charges
  • any allocated car parking space (although unallocated spaces are available)
  • computer
  • printer
  • computer and printer consumables
  • computer maintenance and repair
  • computer software
  • paper and other office supplies
  • business advice from Zernike (or any other entity) over and above that which is agreed in advance.

What do I have to do in return?

Occupants of the IDEA Centre will be required to sign a licence agreement which sets out formally the arrangements between them and Zernike. The main features of this licence are:

  • a returnable deposit of £500 payable in advance
  • a monthly fee of £250 payable in advance
  • an undertaking to keep their office clean, neat and tidy and to look after all office equipment, furniture and fittings
  • an undertaking to handle all common equipment with care and to treat all common areas with respect
  • one month notice on either side
  • a maximum period of occupancy of two years
  • an undertaking to comply with whatever regulations are advised by Zernike at any time, and
  • an undertaking to pay for any loss or damage
In addition, occupants are required to prepare short regular progress reports in an agreed format.

How long can I stay?

Maximum duration
Because the purpose of the Normanby IDEA Centre is to promote the start-up and growth of new businesses, it is expected that most IDEA Centre occupants will be ready to graduate to larger accommodation at full market rates and pay normal commercial rates for business advice within 12 to 18 months from entry. Where appropriate it is hoped that many businesses will chose to graduate to larger premises within Normanby Gateway but this is not a requirement.

One year review
Businesses will be reviewed after one year's occupancy. At this point it is expected that the following will be established:

  • first year performance against initial goals and objectives
  • future goals and direction
  • areas needing attention to make sure that the business is ready to leave the incubator by the end of the second year
  • a likely date for leaving
  • what services and facilities will be needed by the business after leaving the IDEA Centre
  • what future accommodation needs will be and whether suitable accommodation can be found elsewhere in Normanby Gateway
Businesses that have left the IDEA Centre and stay in the North Lincolnshire area will continue to be eligible to receive support from the Zernike team in order to make the transition as painless as possible. However six months after leaving they will be expected to pay commercial rates for any advisory services provided.

What rules and restrictions are there?

No smoking
The whole of Normanby Gateway is a strictly no smoking zone.

Good management
IDEA Centre occupants will be required to comply with such other restrictions and regulations as may be advised by Zernike in the interests of the good management of the Centre and the Normanby Gateway building. These rules are not intended to be onerous but rather to ensure the harmonious operation of a multi-occupancy building and enable other tenants to pursue their business interests in an effective manner. For example pets will not be permitted (with the exception of guide dogs), overnight sleeping on the premises is not allowed and the building may not be used for illegal or immoral purposes.

Certain other regulations are designed to keep up standards of appearance for all users of Normanby Gateway. For example no names or other signs may be displayed at windows and the white vertical blinds provided are the only window coverings allowed.

Acceptable use policy
It is a requirement that all users of broadband and telephone service comply with the acceptable use policy of W2 Networking Limited.

What else should I know?

The correct postal address for businesses in the Normanby IDEA Centre is:

XYZ Limited
Normanby Gateway
Lysaghts Way
DN15 9YG

Business direct dial telephone numbers will be allocated in the form 01724 275xxx.

Car parking
Car parking spaces will be numbered and allocated to specific tenants. The limitation on available spaces means that it is not possible to allocate any to occupants of the IDEA Centre. Unallocated spaces may be used on a first come, first served basis.

Occupants of Normanby IDEA Centre suites will be provided with the necessary keys for a preparation charge. For security reasons the exact details are not given on this web version of notes for prospective accupants. Up to two additional sets of keys can be obtained on the same basis. Occupants should take every precaution to keep keys safe at all times. The loss of any keys should be reported at the first opportunity orally to the receptionist and as soon as possible in writing to your mentor. Replacement keys can be obtained at £10 per key. Keys must be returned when the suite is vacated.

Incubator occupants will be asked to nominate two local keyholders who can be contacted at any time in the event of an emergency.

Zernike, it shareholders, directors, staff and agents cannot of course make any promises about the success or otherwise of your business if you are accepted into the IDEA Centre, or indeed if you are not accepted. Likewise they can accept no liability for the consequences of you following or not following any business or other advice which is proffered or for any other action. It will be a condition of acceptance into the IDEA Centre that you acknowledge that you have complete responsibility for the performance of your business.

The first start-up business in residence

How do I find out more?

Preparation ...
There is a lot of information in the section on the left. Please read this carefully and prepare any specific questions which you may have as a result;

... then
the best way to find out more is to talk to a member of the Zernike team. We would be pleased to meet with you and show you around the IDEA Centre without any commitment on either side. Please contact Bob Hodgson or David Squire on 01724 275100 or 01223 528980 or email

If, after an initial discussion, you feel that you would like to apply for a place in the Normanby IDEA Centre then Bob or David would be pleased to help you with the application procedure.

Practical support
Although not connected in any formal way with Normanby Gateway, prospective tenants may like to know that a potentially useful source of support whilst setting up their business is the South Humber Business Advice Centre. Located two miles away on the Doncaster Road, SoHBAC can provide a wide range of practical assistance which complements that available from Zernike.