First of its kind innovation centre is officially open

Portsmouth Cathedral Innovation Centre Launch Night - The first to pledge, (l to r) Fareham MP Mark Hoban (Minister of State for Employment), Baroness Elizabeth Berridge and The Dean of Portsmouth Cathedral The Very Rev David Brindley are ready with their �75. 30/04/2013 - Picture Andy Brooks
Portsmouth Cathedral Innovation Centre Launch Night - The first to pledge, (l to r) Fareham MP Mark Hoban (Minister of State for Employment), Baroness Elizabeth Berridge and The Dean of Portsmouth Cathedral The Very Rev David Brindley are ready with their �75. 30/04/2013 - Picture Andy Brooks
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PORTSMOUTH has become the first city in the UK to officially house a business innovation centre in religious buildings.

As previously reported in The News, a year ago Baroness Elizabeth Berridge announced in the House of Lords the creation of the Cathedral Innovation Centre in an unused part of Cathedral House.

Now, one year on, the Baroness was among a clutch of dignitaries to attend its official launch last night.

She said: ‘It’s a phenomenal idea and it’s exactly what the church should be doing, as there’s a great need at the moment for jobs and ways to solve social problems.’

The centre is not just 14 desks in a building.

It is a partnership between Portsmouth Cathedral; the Royal Society of Arts, which act as mentors; the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth; and the University of Portsmouth Business School.

It was created using only £9,000 of funding, and has also sponsored two full scholarship places for innovative business students who want to complete an master of business administration degree at the University of Portsmouth.

Now the CIC is asking local people to buy shares in it in order to fund future businesses, create jobs and help the local economy.

The CIC’s chief executive, Francis Davis, said: ‘When you add up how much these businesses can get – an £18,000 degree, business space, mentoring help – it’s worth probably half a million quid in income, so if people donate a quid, we can give these businesses 500 times that amount, probably.’

The CIC has launched £75 shares, and the first were bought last night by Fareham MP and employment minister Mark Hoban, Baroness Berridge and The Very Reverend David Brindley, Dean of Portsmouth.

Mr Hoban said the strength of this project was in its ability to link business with the community.

He added: ‘This is a fantastic innovation and it’s something we can all learn from and contribute to in different ways.’

Southampton is soon to follow suit and set one up, and it is hoped the idea will be taken up around the UK. See cathedralinnovation.com