PLANS for a new defence research base on Portsdown Hill will ensure Portsmouth leads the way in cutting-edge technology, according the Confederation of British Industry.
Prime minister David Cameron yesterday announced in a letter to The News the creation of a £4m Centre for Marine Intelligent Systems at the Portsdown Technology Park.
The base will be used to research unmanned underwater technology such as autonomous boats and submarines.
It is part of a plan to increase the amount of money made from defence exports in the country.
Today the Confederation of British Industry, a business lobbying group, has said the base will be crucial to meeting government targets of making £1 trillion in exports.
Malcolm Hyde, the south east regional director for the CBI said the Portsmouth research centre would play a leading role.
He told The News: ‘Portsmouth is a renowned centre for marine engineering.
‘So it makes absolute sense for the UK’s new maritime technology research hub to be based in the city.
‘Not only will this boost jobs and be a fillip to the local economy, but Portsmouth will also play a leading role in keeping the UK at the cutting edge of marine and defence technology, which will be exported around the world.
‘That will be crucial to meeting the government’s target of £1 trillion of exports by 2020 and to the country’s long-term sustainable growth.’
The government thinks there is more money to be made in defence exports, and estimates the sector can bring in £72bn worth of exports by 2021.
Across all industries, the government wants to double the UK’s exports to £1 trillion by 2020.
City leaders yesterday praised the decision to choose Portsmouth as the home of the base and believe it will create a billion-pound industry.
But others warned it would be unable to mitigate the job losses from the expected closure of Portsmouth’s shipyard, as it would take time for the work to grow.