CHINESE officials toured a thriving business support centre for entrepreneurs as they look to replicate its success back home.
Government representatives from the Guangxi Zhuang region in south China included Fareham Innovation Centre as part of a fact-finding trade mission.
With 15 workshops and 24 offices, and next to Daedalus airport at Lee-on-the-Solent, the centre is run for start-ups and early-stage firms by innovation centres specialist Oxford Innovation.
Richard May, the centre’s incubation director, organised the visit after networking with a British Chamber of Commerce initiative involving trade links to China.
The 24-strong delegation was keen to see how the centre has created a thriving ‘ecosystem’ with occupiers, large employers, local and central government, further and higher education establishments and the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership.
Chris Allington, the managing director of Oxford Innovation, said: ‘This compelling mix, where innovation flourishes, has caught the imagination of the Chinese.
‘They regard Fareham Innovation Centre as a prototype and our model could be the next British export to China.’
Afterwards, Mr May said: ‘Oxford Innovation forges links with most key global economies to best usher our customers wanting to trade internationally. Indeed, we recently held a roadshow at the centre on how small-to-medium-size enterprises can do business in China, with a focus on the significant manufacturing province of Guangdong.
‘The link strengthens our support for product prototyping and contract manufacturing in China and there is a possible opportunity for Oxford Innovation and its partners to create an efficient UK-wide gateway to China for innovators.’
Launched in April 2015, the £5.3m Fareham Innovation Centre is operated by Oxford Innovation on behalf of owner Fareham Borough Council; full house was called in spring, two years ahead of schedule.
In total, there are 110 people working for 27 businesses on site, plus a further 36 businesses using drop-in facilities.