Strong first year for centre within Enterprise Zone

Oxford Innovation's regional manager Stephen Brownlie, left,  with Peter Eales, from MRO Insyte
Oxford Innovation's regional manager Stephen Brownlie, left, with Peter Eales, from MRO Insyte
Owner of Winchester distillery Paul Bowler

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AN INNOVATION centre is full – just a year after it was first launched.

Fareham Innovation Centre, which is run by operator Oxford Innovation and provides occupiers with advice and support to help them start and grow their businesses, is now 100 per cent occupied.

Stephen Brownlie, Oxford Innovation’s regional manager for the south, said: ‘The demand for the 24 offices and 15 workshops here at Fareham Innovation Centre has been phenomenal.

‘We’re two years ahead of schedule by way of occupancy levels.

‘Everyone here has a spring in their step because of the buzzing entrepreneurial atmosphere.

‘There is a strong case for additional, similar business space to be built in the vicinity because demand from incubator and growing business is so strong.’

There are now 27 businesses at the award-winning £5.3m centre, which is next to the former military Daedalus airport at Lee-on-the-Solent and is within the Solent Enterprise Zone.

Many of the occupiers are from the marine, aviation, aerospace and engineering sectors, with a further 36 local businesses regularly using the drop-in facilities, including hired conference and meeting rooms.

Launched in April 2015, the centre is operated by Oxford Innovation on behalf of owner Fareham Borough Council, with 110 businessmen and women on site.

Andy Wannell, director of finance and resources at the council, said: ‘This is a fantastic milestone for the centre.’

One of the latest businesses to take root is MRO Insyte, which specialises in the maintenance, repair and operations environment, such as factory spares at warehouses, across the world.

The firm, owned by Peter Eales, has just been awarded a contract by the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Commerce and Industry to visit manufacturing plants and benchmark inventory efficiencies and international standards for the Kingdom.

Peter said: ‘The centre is in a fantastic location and gives me all the tools I need to grow as a business.’

Occupiers 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 an Enterprise Zone.

The centre has received plaudits from the Federation of Small Businesses. It was awarded the Most Innovative Small Business Friendly, Programme, Campaign or Project at the 2015 awards.