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25 August 2020

£5.7 million investment for new MOD innovation hub

£5.7 million investment for new MOD innovation hub in the heart of Dorset

Dorset LEP is investing £1.5 million of the Government’s Local Growth Fund towards the construction of a new Defence Innovation Centre at Dorset Innovation Park, the county’s Enterprise Zone. The investment will be matched by £3.1 million from the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and £1.1 million from Dorset Council.

Aiming to be operational by Spring 2021, the new Defence Innovation Centre will provide 1100m2 new office space and 450m2 new workshop space for MOD innovation, and associated conference and collaboration space. It aims to create 90 new jobs and achieve a direct GVA of £4 million in its first ten years. 

The Centre will Incorporate the Army Battle Lab and will enable the MOD to work in collaboration with academic institutions, corporates and SMEs to develop new products and technologies with the potential to be commercialised. 

Dorset boasts of a particularly strong defence sector and is home to many MOD establishments, such as the Army’s Armoured Trial and Development Unit in Bovington, the Royal Corps of Signals training centre in Blandford, and the training area at Lulworth Cove which is used by all elements of the UK’s Armed Forces.

Dorset Innovation Park, Dorset's only economic development site with Enterprise Zone status, is developing to be an advanced engineering cluster of excellence for the South West, building on its strengths in marine, defence, energy and cyber-security.

Jim Stewart, Chair of Dorset LEP, which oversees the strategic development of the Enterprise Zone said: “This large-scale investment is a major boost to Dorset’s defence sector. Dorset is renowned for its strengths in innovation and this new MOD workspace will enable these sectors to flourish even further. We are delighted that the MoD has chosen Dorset Innovation Park for the location of its Defence Battle Lab and we look forward to working with them on its success.”

Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said: “The Army’s BattleLab in Dorset will build close industry relationships, whilst exploiting cutting-edge technologies to keep our Armed Forces sharp in the face of new and changing threats. This initiative will foster talent and innovation and will drive future success.”

Cllr Gary Suttle, Dorset Council Portfolio Holder for Economic Growth and Skills, said: “This new Defence Innovation Centre project comes as a further significant asset to Dorset and underlines the importance of supporting innovative defence-based business.

I’m excited to see how the project continues to come together. Dorset Council has a long association with the Ministry Of Defence and the armed forces in general, and we hope that this is seen as another development that will give long term confidence to businesses that might be looking to invest in our local economy.”

Local Growth Fund

Local Enterprise Partnerships are playing a vital role in driving forward economic growth across the country, helping to build a country that works for everyone.

That’s why by 2021 Government will have invested over £12bn through the Local Growth Fund, allowing LEPs to use their local knowledge to get all areas of the country firing on all cylinders.

Some additional key facts:

  • There are 38 LEPs covering the whole of England.
  • The government has awarded £9.1bn in three rounds of Growth Deals to local areas to drive economic growth.
  • LEPs are investing in a wide range of projects including transport, skills, business support, broadband, innovation and flood defences.
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