A Sunderland business centre set up to help new businesses grow has marked its 18th anniversary with five new tenants.

Aspen Wolf, Build Secure, Simply Funded, First Class Residential and Foster Care Associates North East have all moved into The Evolve Business Centre at Rainton Bridge in recent months.

Designed to provide flexible workspaces, the centre is owned and operated by Sunderland City Council and officially opened its doors in 2006.

Since then, hundreds of businesses have gone on to operate from the business hub, including regional success stories Clixifix, Inflo and Coconut Lizard.

Patrick Melia, chief executive of Sunderland City Council, said: “It is fantastic to see yet more innovative businesses relocating to Evolve and creating opportunities for local people.

“The centre was established to provide an environment which helped small businesses set up and grow, and these five firms are all fantastic examples of how it continues to do just that.

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“We are delighted that they have chosen to invest in Sunderland and are looking forward, as a Council, to working with all five businesses as they continue to innovate and grow.”

Peter McIntyre, executive director of city development at Sunderland City Council, said: “It is fantastic to see Evolve continuing to play a key role in helping to nurture and grow the next generation of the region’s businesses.

“Since opening its doors almost 20 years ago, the centre has provided the perfect environment for hundreds of businesses to innovate and grow, with many going on to launch products and services that have been sold the world-over while creating scores of jobs for local people.

“It has been a real success story for the city and we are confident that these latest tenants will see the centre continue having a real positive impact on the region’s economy.”

Aspen Wolf chose to relocate to Evolve from Seaham, County Durham, due to its growing team and its ‘established business community.’

Director Donna Rowlands said: “One of the reasons we moved to Evolve was to become part of its self-contained business community.

“There are a lot of other businesses based in the centre to work with and it has a real professional feel about it, which was also a key factor in our decision.

“Over the next 12 months, we have plans to branch out into new service areas and expand our offering and this move will be key to helping us achieve that.”

Construction insurance specialist, Build Secure, was previously working from a Regus business centre before relocating to Evolve.

Jason Lovell, director at Build Secure, said: “In the last 12 months, Build Secure has achieved substantial growth, expanding our client base, team of professionals, and becoming the principal firm for AHCI Ltd.

“The decision to relocate to Evolve was driven by our need to facilitate growth as we continue to expand. Evolve’s professional, modern, and comprehensive facilities are very fitting for our firm’s setting to not only enhance our working environment but to also work alongside a dynamic community of professionals.”Evolve is managed and marketed by the business investment team at Sunderland City Council.