Innovation Connect: The Benefits of Connecting with us

Did you know, when you become a member of Innovation Connect you are automatically signed up to a range of benefits and discounts? This is something that Innovation Connect Director, Chris Worrall, was very excited to find out about.

NUS (now TOTUM) Card

Upon receiving his NUS (now TOTUM) card, Chris was delighted to find that he received not only 10% off his lunchtime shop at Co-op but also discounts on eating out (including Pizza Express and Zizi), socialising and even travel essentials such as airport parking.

University Library

Chris also found that he had unlimited access to the University library which is open 24/7 during term time. All Innovation Connect members will be issued with a card to use for access to buildings and this also allows access to free transport around the city on the University of Portsmouth’s bus service.

Tea and Coffee

There is free tea and coffee available in the Innovation Connect buildings as well as a coffee club where you earn points with each hot drink purchase in a University of Portsmouth Café, which will eventually lead to a free drink.

Gym Membership

To counteract this lunching and lack of movement, Chris was pleased to discover that he is also entitled to discounted rates at the University of Portsmouth’s gym, including membership from as little as £13.99 per month.

Business Startup

Starting up a business requires support and guidance through each step, especially if this is a completely new venture. Innovation Connect membership gives you access to a range of support and introductory guidance, such as a registered business address, free use of meeting rooms, opportunities to promote your business via a range of channels including a feature in the Innovation Connect Newsletter, speaking at business events and promoting your business through other local businesses.

Business Base

Basing your business at Innovation Connect puts you in close proximity to other like-minded individuals and groups who may be able to assist you with your business needs and may also provide you with business opportunities to assist them with theirs.

Meet the Members – Gethin Jones

“Think it, Say it, Do it”

Gethin has been with us here at Innovation Space for about 9 months now and let me tell you, he is a man with many stories. I never thought when I decided to do this blog series, that I’d speak to someone with such a different past to their present self.


He was born here in Portsmouth but didn’t have a great start in life. Being put into care at a young age didn’t go well for Gethin and he received his first criminal conviction at the age of 11. Continuing down this rocky path, he was expelled from school at 13 and was then given a custodial sentence at 14. He spent 8 years in prison and was a dependent heroin user.


It was 10 years ago when Gethin decided that he was done with his life as it was and made the choice to turn his life around. With no qualifications, no work history and no meaningful relationships in his life, the time to turn it all around was now. And turn it around he did.


Whilst attending night school to gain some basic qualifications and volunteering for 2 hours a week teaching young people how to sail, Gethin started to turn his life around. He was soon volunteering 5 days a week and it became apparent to Gethin that he wanted a career that would allow him to use his skills to support and work with young people.


He then went to work at the Portsmouth Foyer; a youth hostel for people aged 16-25. After 6 months, he was working in a full time position and after 18 months, he was a team leader supervising staff. Already Gethin had come so far from where he had been, but he wanted more. He knew he had more potential and other people saw that in him too.


After 2 years at the Foyer, Gethin then moved on to a job at Portsmouth City Council. You’re probably thinking exactly what I did when he told me this – “How did someone with that past record behind them get a job at the council?”.


People could overlook his past and see all the volunteering he’d done and his willingness to better himself. He started out as a youth worker and then went on to manage this service in the council. Following various restructures, he also managed the alcohol intervention service and created a health inequalities service.


But it was last year that Gethin felt like he could be doing a lot more. He wanted to be able to fund the projects he wanted to undertake without having to struggle to find the money from within the council.


This was when ‘Gethin Jones Unlocking Potential’ was created.


‘Unlocking Potential’ allows Gethin to inspire people through his stories to want to better themselves.


“The inspirational speeches are about letting people know that they don’t have to accept where they are no matter where they are in life. If you get to a point in life where you feel like everyone else is moving forward but you’re standing still, there are things you can do.”


His talks give people take-aways and ideas of what they can do to improve their life either personally or professionally. He then provides training and additional coaching where necessary, which is personalised for each person.


In every interview that I have done, I have asked a really silly question. I already know the answer before I ask it, but it’s nice to hear the reasons for the answer.


When asked if he enjoys his job, Gethin replied with, “There’s that saying ‘If you do what you love, you love what you do’”. He really enjoys being around the people he meets through his job and he never feels like he’s working.


If work doesn’t feel like work, I think that’s when you know that you’re in the best place for you. And that’s exactly where Gethin is at.


Through his vibrant past, he has emerged as a man with stories and a passion for inspiring others.


His motto is ‘Think it, say it, do it’.


“If you have an idea but you just think about it, your brain will talk you out of it.”


The best thing to do as an entrepreneur is to take those thoughts and ideas and say them to people who support you. Get their feedback. It could be the best idea they’ve ever heard or it could still need a bit of planning. But either way, you can start the ‘do it’ stage. Start making that idea happen.


Gethin’s plans for the future of ‘Unlocking Potential’ are to first become a limited company. He would then like to be selling his company manual, if you will, to companies. 30% of the money the companies pay for this will go into creating three CICs (Community Interest Companies). There will be one for domestic abuse, one for young person’s early help and one for the rehabilitation of ex offenders.


You can get in contact with Gethin at or visit his website at


It was a pleasure to get to know Gethin and hear his stories first hand. It’s always interesting hearing how people have come from where they did and ended up where they are today.

Meet a Member: Caroline Sumners of 51 Degrees Marketing Consultancy

Caroline Sumners, founder and owner of Portsmouth-based marketing firm Fifty One Degrees, talks about her experience of running her business at Innovation Space.

Caroline, who has had over 16 years of experience in the marketing industry, won her first two months at Innovation Space in a competition in 2015 before taking up a permanent position in the shared collaborative office space.

“Running your own business can be really isolating for a one-person business,” she explained. “One of the key things is that you get a real feeling of collaboration. It is way harder to start and run a business than I ever thought it would be, and it’s a real benefit that there are other people here who are in the same position as you.

“The talks that Innovation Space run — mainly on a Wednesday evening — have been really useful to me, and they cover everything from branding to accounting, writing a business plan, and even how to think about IP and copyright.

“Everyone here is really friendly, helpful, and supportive.”

One of Caroline’s many clients is the University of Portsmouth, who run the shared workspace on Hampshire Terrace, sited at the heart of Portsmouth’s university community and in one of the city’s strongest business districts.

Meet a Member: Kevin Gill from White Rhino Apps

Kevin Gill, owner of Portsmouth-based app development company White Rhino Apps, tells us about his experience in co-working offices at Innovation Space.

Kevin builds branded apps for mobile devices, giving companies a foothold in the ever-growing, unstoppable world of smartphones, tablets, and all manner of other portable hardware.

White Rhino Apps have been at Innovation Space for just over a year. Kevin highlighted the welcoming open-plan atmosphere of the building: “There are opportunities to talk about business challenges and things like that, but also just a social chat.

“I attend the Wednesday evening events — there’s always something new I pick up, regardless of the topic.”

Through the links between Innovation Space and the University of Portsmouth, Kevin has had the chance to work with students, who benefit from the experience and also bring fresh ideas to White Rhino Apps’ projects.

Kevin continued: “I had a student team. They were doing a project for their final year at the Business School. It was really good fun, and very interesting.

“The challenge was focused around marketing and selling technical solutions to non-technical business owners — or, basically, how to sell apps to small businesses.

“I have looked at other office spaces for small businesses, but it tends to be moving from the kitchen table to a little enclosed office, and I can’t really see the benefit of that — you’re still isolated, and you’re still not mixing with people who you would anyway.

“The concept at Innovation Space of moving into a shared office space is absolutely excellent, and very beneficial.”

Shared Office Space

Meet a member: Zac

Web developer, hack event organiser, and University of Portsmouth student Zac Colley spoke to us about how hotdesking at Innovation Space helped his business thrive.

The shared office space is sited in a modern multi-storey building on Hampshire Terrace, just around the corner from the University of Portsmouth, who run the building.

The floor Zac works on, developing everything from one-pagers to large complex websites (including the Team Locals Portsmouth site), is dedicated to students and graduates.

Zac said: “They work with the students to give this space for free for a certain amount of time. One of the aims with this building is to create more businesses in the area which are coming out of the uni.”

Running a web development business while studying and also spearheading Hack Pompey — a series of events which bring people together to code, build hardware, design, and just generally be creative — requires an adaptable workplace. Zac feels he’s found this in Innovation Space.

Hack Pompey is an event that we’ve run at Innovation Space for a couple of years now. Innovation Space is really good because we can move the furniture around and reform how the space works — you can move things around to suit the event. People can set up equipment, and it’s a nice airy place to be.

“And it’s close to the uni, so we can get all of the students to come along.”