SCOTTISH Capital, the private investment vehicle of entrepreneur John McGlynn, is to invest £50 million in the creation of a portfolio of business parks for start-up companies.

Calling the venture the “pay-as-you-go mobile phone” of commercial property, Mr McGlynn revealed the WorkSpace facilities would allow start-up businesses office and storage space on a flexible basis that could increase and decrease by square footage on a month by month basis.

Mr McGlynn said he hoped to open ten such sites over the next 12-18 months in order to provide a support mechanism for new businesses.

The vision for WorkSpace is to have purpose built drive up units at the front of the site with 24/7 access, while units will vary in size from lockers to more than 200sq ft.

“I see this as a great way to foster growth of small business in the area”, said Mr McGlynn. “At a time when there feels to be some uncertainty in the country, the more flexible we can make things for businesses the more likely they are to take the leap of faith to start or grow, we want to encourage and help that.”

Mr McGlynn was a founding director of Entrepreneurial Exchange, and having started his first business from a law school library, he said more start-ups needed support to establish a base.

Highlighting the number of businesses emerging from the Entrepreneurial Spark accelerator programme, he said: “People come out the other side and the support mechanism doesn’t exist. A new start company, the chances are they’ve got no idea how big their first order is going to be.”

He said WorkSpace could offer a desk if that is all that is required, but storage space is also available to house stock.

“If they have a huge order they can take ten storerooms, a month later they can give us nine back. It’s to create ultra-flexibility; this is basically the pay-as-you-go mobile phone for the property business,” he said.

Known for his investments in car parks, in 2014, Mr McGlynn sold to Park First a number of car park sites and partnership operating companies of his Airlink Group.

Mr McGlynn cited the advent of driverless cars as the reason for exiting the car parking sector, which allowed him to focus on an investment portfolio that included commercial property.

Mr McGlynn said attending self-storage conferences led him to believe there was strong investment opportunities in the sector.

In July 2014, a former MacKays clothing site next to Glasgow Airport was purchased, which is now home to the first WorkSpace business centre.

The gross area is 180,000sq ft, which includes more than 44,000 square feet of space developed, consisting of WorkSpace Offices and Studios and 640 self-storage units.

When completed the site will boast 90,000 square feet of WorkSpace areas.

Mr McGlynn said the flexibility would be key to the success of the centres. “Most start-up companies don’t have the cash to pay for a property or commit to a three or five year lease, never mind asking a lawyer to review a 50 page lease,” he said. "The economy has moved on and people who are providing business space have to move with it.

“We’ve looked at best practice around the world and said ‘if we’re going to do this, let’s do it properly’, so it has to be chunky capital for ten sites, or we don’t do it at all.”

In addition, Mr McGlynn said companies housed in one of the centres would offer something extra to prospective investors.

“If we’ve got fifty really cool businesses in there, and some have come from other programmes like Entrepreneurial Spark; that means they are investor ready. Now, if you get to see these companies close at hand, what better for an investor than to have a cluster. So I think there’s an appetite for people to invest in companies where they can fly into Glasgow, go and visit five or six of their investee companies in the one building and then get on a plane again.”

A further site has had a soft opening in Cambuslang, after customers urgently needed space, and a full unveiling of the 7.5 acre site will take place when landscaping and final touches are applied.