A thriving innovation centre has been praised by a prominent business organisation as a glowing example of how local authorities can support fledgling businesses.
Fareham Innovation Centre, Fareham, was recently awarded the most innovative small business friendly programme, campaign or project at the 2015 Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) awards.
Owned by Fareham Borough Council, and operated by innovations centres specialist Oxford Innovation, the £5.3m facility by Daedalus airport was 80 per cent occupied by December 1 - just eight months after being opened.
In the latest development at the building, Ken Moon, the regional chairman for FSB’s Wessex region, which has more than 6,000 members in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, officially unveiled the plaque.
He said: ‘On behalf of the FSB, we are delighted to present this award to the borough council – this is a wonderful example of a local authority and small businesses working together, supporting jobs, growth and prosperity.
‘We hope other local authorities will follow suit, as well as reducing the business rate burden for firms in their early stages.’
Occupants enjoy various benefits, including a 100 per cent business rate discount worth up to £275,000 per business over a five-year period for being within the Solent Enterprise Zone.
At the unveiling, Councillor Seán Woodward, the council’s executive leader, applauded Oxford Innovation’s management role and spoke of how the centre is already making a ‘significant contribution’ to the 3,500 jobs the enterprise zone is expected to create over its lifetime.
Oxford Innovation, which looks after 20 centres, specialises in running facilities which combine office space and mentoring support for start-up and early-stage firms.
Sites include Portsmouth Technopole and Ocean Village Innovation Centre in Southampton.
As previously reported, 80 jobs, mainly from the marine, automotive, aerospace and engineering sectors, have been created at the centre.
There are 16 businesses on site and a further 20 local businesses regularly using the drop-in facilities provided at the centre.
Chris Allington, who is the managing director of Oxford Innovation, said: ‘This fantastic centre is a fantastic example in the UK of how jobs can be generated through a partnership approach.’