Businesses quick to take up chance at Fareham centre

From left, Jacob Kennard, Gavin Moon, Ian Doyle and Sarah Talboys-Smith with Shanon Rees and Rodney Watson at the front
 at the Southsea Village in Palmerston Road Picture: Habibur Rahman

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A flourishing business centre near Fareham has exceeded expectations and will be 80 per cent full from December 1.

Purpose-built Fareham Innovation Centre, which provides occupiers with advice and support to help them start and grow their businesses, launched just eight months ago and is located within the Solent Enterprise Zone.

The directory board tells the tale - a fantastic number of companies have moved in here, specialising for the most part in advanced engineering, marine, aerospace and aviation. We look forward to the centre being at capacity in not too many months to come.

Councillor Seán Woodward, Fareham Borough Council’s executive leader

To date, 80 jobs, mainly from the marine, automotive, aerospace and engineering sectors, have been created at the award-winning £5.3m centre, with 16 businesses now on site and a further 20 local businesses regularly using the drop-in facilities.

Located by the former military Daedalus airfield at Lee-on-the-Solent, the centre celebrated its achievement with its inaugural Open For Business event.

Guest speakers were Councillor Seán Woodward, Fareham Borough Council’s executive leader, Chris Allington, Oxford Innovation’s managing director, and Gary Jeffries, chairman of Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Cllr Woodward said: ‘We agreed targets with Oxford Innovation, back in March, that the centre would be one-third occupied by this time.

The amazing news is that we are now touching 80 per cent occupancy, with something like 80 jobs we have been able to bring into the building.

‘The directory board tells the tale – a fantastic number of companies have moved in here, specialising for the most part in advanced engineering, marine, aerospace and aviation.

‘We look forward to the centre being at capacity in not too many months to come.’

Mr Allington said the extraordinary take-up, this fast, was unprecedented in his experience, apart from a centre the company is managing in the heart of Oxford.

He said: ‘Our vision for the Enterprise Zone is to create a world-class hub for advanced manufacturing and technology within the marine, aerospace and aviation sectors.

‘The innovation centre forms a key landmark in delivering this ambition, as does the £12m Cemast Centre across the road from us.’

Detailing the regional picture, Mr Jeffries described how small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) have an ‘absolute critical part to play’ in driving economic growth right across the Solent area in the coming years.