Start-up Lounge, City College Norwich

It's been a long time since I walked the halls of City College Norwich.  I did my GCSEs there, A levels and and Access Course before I went to university.  It has changed a lot since then.

Gone are the long, dark corridors of closed blue doors, replaced by open, airy, glass-fronted office spaces.  What I remember to be grey, dull walls are now light and above the doorways you can read positive and inspiring quotations.
Innovation and creativity in the Start-Up Lounge
Image courtesy of ddpavumba /

There's a smell of Starbucks coffee down the hall and a hustling, bustling and friendly atmosphere.  The reception staff are authentic, happy and helpful.

The Start-up Lounge

I am there to meet up with Richard Steer who has offered to show me around their Start-Up Lounge.  I wait in the Advice Shop.  Full of colour, pot plants and Information about what's on in Norwich and the College.

I'd been excited since hearing about it.  I love the idea that the entrepreneurial spirit is being promoted in the college and ideas are being incubated and encouraged.

We walk over to the new Start-up lounge.  For anyone who might have frequented the college back in the days, it's in The Blakeney Building, off to the right hand side of the main building behind the Restaurant .  The one that always got used for exams.  I wish I had grabbed a photo while I was there.  I have a photo somewhere of what it used to look like. I would love to contrast it with what it's likes now.  Compared to what it used to be, it's unrecognisable.

We walk into an open plan area.  It full of teens from Norwich School, everyone so busy they don't pay us any mind as we enter.  There's a group to the left of us oblivious to our scrutiny. Some sitting on cube seats, whilst others in the group are studiously brainstorming and scribbling on a concave wall which seemingly doubles as a whiteboard from floor to ceiling.

Start-up Lounge Functional Areas 

The room is broken up into different functional areas:

·         Ideation
·         Research
·         Collaboratorium
·         Consultation
·         The Studio
·         Intereaction
·         Workplace
·         Entrepreneurs’ Lounge

There's a glassed off section in the centre with a screen.  The area is used for presenting and pitching.  I'm told the glass doors pull all the way around, opening up the space to fit even more people.  Seems like a great meeting area.

Creativity Ideas at City College Norwich
Image courtesy of 

One of the school governors comes over and shares some of the ideas that the students have been generating.  In just an afternoon they have come up with innovative and interesting ideas for products.

A far cry from a few years ago when people signed up for course at college, took their course, passed the exam and then passed out of the door to work for someone else.  The Start-up Lounge is a refreshingly exhilarating workspace where young people's ideas are supported and nurtured.  Where they can be given the skills to take their ideas and make them happen. 

A Bright Future for Norwich

In the past a student might have thought they were different, wanted to do more, wanted to create something, wanted to change the world.  But without direction, support or inspiration may have ended up sat at a desk in an office working for someone else and not quite knowing how they got there.  

But now, with innovative places like the Start-up Lounge they might set off on the path less travelled.  Now the spark and the dream might have the opportunity to become a reality.   I've no doubt that good things are going to come out of this.  And from what I heard today, things already are.


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