Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership
(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 1,100m2
new office space and 450m2
new workshop space for MoD innovation, and associated conference and collaboration space.
It could create up to 90 new jobs and achieve a direct GVA of £4 million in its first ten years.
The Centre will incorporate an Army Battle Lab and will enable the MoD to work in collaboration with academic institutions, corporates and SMEs to develop new products and technologies that also have the potential to be commercialised.
Dorset is already home to a strong defence sector and 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.”