Eight companies are set to move into the new £7 million extension at Fareham Innovation Centre in south Hampshire.
News of their arrivals in August, taking occupancy at the 3,400 sq m facility to 40%, was formally announced by Jo Willett, Managing Director of Oxford Innovation.
Jo was addressing nearly 50 guests for the official opening of phase two, which comprises 33 offices, five high-bay workshops, meeting rooms and The Bridge conference suite, which can accommodate up to 100 delegates.
The extension aims to increase the service offering at Fareham Innovation Centre, creating a greater supportive ecosystem for growing businesses in the marine, engineering and aerospace sectors.
The compass plaque details distances of buildings within the Solent Enterprise Zone, including the airport control tower, hangers and Faraday Business Park.
Inscribed are the words: “A premier location for aviation, aerospace engineering and advanced manufacturing.”
Oxford Innovation runs the award-winning Fareham Innovation Centre on behalf of owner Fareham Borough Council, and is the UK’s leading operator of Innovation Centres, with 25 currently under management.
Fareham Innovation Centre’s original £5.3m building opened more than three years ago with 24 offices and 15 light-manufacturing workshops.
More than 40 businesses from the marine, engineering and aerospace sectors rapidly filled the building, with near 100% occupancy achieved within 12 months, creating demand for the extension, which has more than doubled the original footprint.
All five workshops at the extension, which are suitable for light manufacturing and engineering, have already been snapped up.
In her welcome speech to guests, Jo, pictured below, said: “When we were appointed to manage the building just over three years ago I don’t think any of us could really imagine just how successful it was going to be.
“We as a company have our roots in supporting high-growth, scaling and interesting technology companies, SMEs and start-ups and I think the Innovation Centre is a great place for a business to start.
“Not only is the space very flexible – you can grow or contract, depending on how your business is going.
“Additionally, through our Innovation Director Richard May, businesses can get access to a number of other organisations to partner with, to collaborate, to gain business support, to receive business coaching, or to just have a cup of coffee when you’re having a bad day.
“In terms of how the Innovation Centre is going, it has only been open a few weeks but I’m pleased to say that we will already have eight companies in by the end of August, occupying 40% of the new extension space.”
Jo added: “I think this building in phase two is a really great example of a local authority which is entrepreneurial in the way that it acts.”
Alongside Jo there were two guest speakers at the opening ceremony.
Councillor Seán Woodward, Executive Leader of Fareham Borough Council, and Gary Jeffries, Chairman of Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), both spoke of successful inward investment in the Daedalus commercial development area, supporting “small businesses, enterprise and innovation”.
Gary is pictured above on the centre left, by Jo, with Councillor Woodward on the front right, by the Mayor.
Solent LEP contributed a £2 million grant to the second phase as part of the organisation’s programme for supporting innovation across the Solent region.
Stephen Brownlie, Oxford Innovation’s regional manager for the South, was on hand to give guests guided tours, including of the conference facilities.
When building the extension, research showed that the area was crying out for quality conference facilities which meet the contemporary needs of today’s digitally immersive business world and is far removed from traditional ‘chalk talks’.
Stephen said: “These are the sort of high-tech audio-visual facilities that businesses expect, and we are confident that The Bridge will enhance the support we already have on offer to customers internally and externally.”
For smaller groups, the conference centre can be divided into two separate meeting rooms, Seahawk and Seafire, suitable for groups of 50-70 people.
All delegates have access to high-speed broadband, break-out space, catering options and free on-site parking.
Interested in arranging your next event at this impressive new facility? Find out more at fareham-ic.co.uk/the-bridge-conference-centre or call the centre team on 023 9387 0380.