The University of Northampton has broken ground on its new Innovation Centre, a state-of-the-art facility that will help up to 55 small businesses to grow.
The centre, situated within the Enterprise Zone, will provide support from the university’s Inspire2Enterprise service, an advisory service specifically for enterprises developing their business in a socially responsible manner.
The university has been internationally recognised as a leader in supporting social entrepreneurship and has recently been designated as a ‘Changemaker Campus’, a prestigious values-based award shared with only 25 other universities worldwide.
Terry Neville, chief operating officer at the university, said:
“The Innovation Centre will be a flagship for the social enterprise sector and will specialise in business support for this sector, which is rapidly expanding across the UK and globally.
“Encouraging enterprise and entrepreneurship is crucial to the University of Northampton and significantly enhances the experience and employability prospects we offer to our students.
“Occupants of the new University of Northampton Innovation Centre will also benefit from its central location and superfast broadband.”
Welcoming the move, Councillor David Mackintosh, leader of Northampton Borough Council, said:
“Innovation centres offer businesses the best chance of surviving those early years.
“Many household brands are where they are today thanks to the vital start offered by such centres and this one is particularly important as it will support an industry which is still in its infancy.
“The University of Northampton is right at the leading edge of Social Enterprise in the UK and this investment will help cement that position.”
It is expected to open in early 2015, is one of several developments planned within the Northampton Waterside Enterprise Zone. This includes a new and improved railway station opposite the Innovation Centre, as well as a £330 milliom University of Northampton campus.