Newcastle Helix: a review of our 2021

Despite the uncertainty of another long lockdown at the beginning of the year and the continued pressures on businesses, we are taking a moment to reflect on the fantastic achievements of the Newcastle Helix community and to celebrate the continued resilience, determination and innovation we see on-site.

This year the Helix site has continued to attract national and international attention with 36 new tenants of all sizes joining the vibrant community.

Urban Foresight, a smart and sustainable cities consultancy, moved into The Catalyst early in 2021 and have recently been appointed by Newcastle City Council to deliver their smart city transformation programme.

A company developing oral cancer treatments, LightOx, announced their move to The Biosphere in November joining the vibrant life sciences cluster along with Nanovery who are using nanorobotic technology to improve the diagnosis of some of the world’s most serious diseases.

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) moved into an office in the National Innovation Centre for Data based at The Catalyst. The new centre specialises in AI and data science and the close proximity to the universities allows the organisation to tap into the region’s talent pipeline which includes a high proportion of STEM and computing students.

A full list of businesses new to Helix in 2021 can be foudn at the foot of this article.

The test of the Gita Robots

At the start of the year the UK National Innovation Centre for Ageing were the first in the world to evaluate gita robots. These robots pair with a user and carry their cargo alongside them, allowing the user to move around hands-free. The testing explored how the ‘tech companion’ could boost healthy lifestyles and mitigate isolation by encouraging users to walk, and to live more independent and sustainable lives.

BBC Reith lecture at The Catalyst

In November, part of the BBC’s Reith lecture series was held in our very own Catalyst building, home to the National Innovation Centre for Data. Commissioned by the BBC, the Reith Lectures are an annual series of lectures given by leading figures from across the globe. On Newcastle Helix, Stuart Russell, Professor of Computer Science, founder of the Center for Human-Compatible Artificial Intelligence at the University of California, Berkeley, delivered four lectures looking at the impact of AI on our lives.

UK’s Smartest City 2021

In this year’s IMD Smart City Index, Newcastle rose two places to 21 and ahead of all other UK cities. The Urban Observatory, based on Newcastle Helix, has continued to work in partnership with the city council, Newcastle University and Hedgehog Lab to provide residents with real-time information and data on the city centre, including live public transport updates and how busy the roads are, for the website. This tool allows visitors and residents make smarter and more informed decisions about how they interact with the city.

Launch of the NCLEUS website

Another key achievement this year saw Newcastle City Council, in partnership with Urban Foresight, unveil Newcastle’s smart city website This came after Newcastle entered the IMD Smart City Index in 2020 at the 23rd spot. The website is a centralised hub pulling together information across all of the city’s latest smart solutions and innovation projects.

Moxy hotel gets the green light

In the summer the North East’s first Moxy hotel, to be located on Newcastle Helix, was granted planning permission. The boutique-hotel concept will be located immediately south of the Lumen and will feature a café and bar and is a significant step in enhancing the site’s leisure offer. We look forward to seeing construction begin next year.

The Spark continues to grow

The development of the third landmark office space on Helix, The Spark, has progressed at pace this year. The outer structure has been completed, windows are in, and lights are cascading out on the dark winter evenings.

The Spark nearing completion
The Spark nearing completion

The 12 floors of Grade A office space are designed to accommodate businesses that are looking for an alternative and inspiring workspace. It offers collaborative space options as well as traditional desk space and is due to be completed in early 2022.

The Catalyst shortlisted at global real estate awards

At the 2021 MIPIM Awards, ‘Newcastle Intelligent City of Longevity: Home to The Catalyst’ was shortlisted in the Best Urban Project category alongside three other leading projects in Singapore, Japan and France. This shortlisting solidifies Newcastle as an international leader in healthy longevity amongst other ground-breaking innovation, architecture and integration projects.

Getting to know our neighbours

This year we got to know more about some of our neighbours around the Newcastle Helix site. The People’s Kitchen told us all about the vital work they do for the city’s most vulnerable people and hosted their outdoor Christmas party with their service users on the site. To support the homeless and help fight hunger and loneliness this winter The People’s Kitchen has launched their Feed a Friend for a Fiver campaign . We look forward to learning more from one another and meeting more of our community neighbours next year.

With so much on the cards for 2022, we look forward to the future with optimism and excitement. The Newcastle Helix community as a test bed of innovation and collaboration between academia, the public and the private sector, has continued to be recognised on a regional, national and international stage. We are beyond proud of the research that has come out of the site and the people that make it possible as we stride to help people to live smarter, longer, and healthier lives.

Who moved in 2021?


  • BoxModel Digital
  • DBRS/Thinc
  • Digital Technologies Group
  • Global Maritime Geoscience
  • IoTech
  • IT @ Spectrum Ltd
  • Jumping Rivers

Life Sciences, Biotech and Health

  • Changing Health
  • Glycanage
  • Great North Research and Innovation - GNRI Biomed
  • Hexis Lab
  • Moorgate Resources
  • SkinBio Theraputics
  • Skin Biotix
  • Skin Life Analytics
  • Stilla Technologies
  • Treat-NMD
  • Baltic Apprenticeships
  • Bamburgh Capital
  • Broadoak Asset Management
  • Explain Market Research
  • Leighton
  • Mullings Companies UK Ltd.
  • National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise
  • Revlifter
  • Savage Silk

Voluntary, community and social enterprise

  • Food and Drink North East
  • HireStreet
  • Onhand

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