Oscar winner to develop Burnley tech hub

Mark Crabtree, the Burnley man whose AMS Neve business has won a brace of Oscars, has unveiled ambitious plans to transform the former Burnley Grammar school into Landmark Burnley -  a hi tech hub for digital SMEs and micro-businesses.

Mark Crabtree Landmark Burnley

The former Burnley Grammar pupil is investing seven figures of his own money into the collaborative workspace for digital start-ups, SMEs and allied businesses.

The Landmark Burnley is set to open its doors to the first wave of digital businesses in September, with plans that will see the historic grade 2 listed building become a central part of Burnley’s thriving tech economy.

Mark has long resisted the temptation to move his sound engineering company to Hollywood, despite winning two Oscars, a Grammy and an Emmy.

He said: “The Landmark project is a way to help Burnley grow its digital skills base, and for that not to ‘leak’ out to say Manchester but keep the talent and skill in Burnley.

"In the past, people starting businesses used to need money to buy machinery, hence the grants process. Now they need a laptop, an idea and somewhere other than their kitchen table to work. But the point is, they want to work with like minds, and having social gathering spaces to encourage each along.”

Mark added: “The Landmark will also have allied businesses in situ, a small presence of lawyers and accountants in a move that means those professions will be on hand to assist the young companies grow and flourish. The building is absolutely amazing, very atmospheric and lends itself to being a great place to work in an area that has fantastic lifestyle advantages too.”

The project, which has been over a year in the making, germinated from Mark’s role as chairman of Burnley Bondholders. Mark’s partner in running the operation of the Landmark space is David Walker, managing director and founder of digital marketing company +24Marketing.

Mark explained: “I could see there were many digital businesses ‘under the radar’ in the borough and together with the council regeneration team we got together 20 of the 60 businesses we identified and asked what they needed in order to grow and stay in the town. "Top of the list was their desire to work next to each other and share knowledge, making connections."

  • For more on this story, see the May/June edition of Lancashire Business View, out soon.