A HAMPSHIRE university is set to create hundreds of new jobs by creating a new business centre in the heart of Southampton, the Daily Echo can reveal.

Southampton Solent University has revealed plans to develop a new Digital and Creative Innovation Centre (DCIC), located in Southampton’s Cultural Quarter, creating 500 new jobs over ten years.

Under the plans, the Sir James Matthews campus will be transformed into an innovation centre focussed on high growth business start-ups operating in the digital technology and creative sector.

The centre, which will open in 2020, will bring up to £37 million to the local economy over a ten year period, says a reported submitted to Hampshire business bosses.

The proposed innovation centre, which hopes to support 112 companies when established, will provide space for creative and digital start-ups to work collaboratively and share ideas.

The space would also consist of co-working areas, bookable meeting rooms and flexible events space to allow businesses to host exhibitions to showcase initiatives to the local community and potential investors.

There will also be space for students and staff to form relationships with the businesses based in the centre.

Professor Graham Baldwin, Vice-Chancellor at Southampton Solent University, said: "Solent has been developing a proposal regarding the establishment of a Digital and Creative Innovation Centre to support innovation led growth in the region. 

"Our initial business case is currently undergoing a Solent LEP public consultation and, once this stage is complete, we may be in a position to move forward in discussions with key stakeholders ahead of any final decision."  

Royston Smith, MP for Southampton Itchen said: “Solent University are very good at preparing students for the world of work and are well placed to create an innovation hub.”

“The way the economy is going with a focus towards the autonomous vehicle and more artificial intelligence led technologies, then raining and retraining people to take advantage of those technologies is absolutely key.”

The university has applied to the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) for funding to help bring the scheme forward under the Innovation Programme Fund, a £5m funding grant that seeks to invest in schemes which bring direct benefits to the Solent economy.

Councillor Sean Woodward, a Solent LEP director, added: “It is a very interesting project. and I will be very interested to hear peoples views as to whether funding should be granted.Creative industries are a key priority for all councils in South Hampshire which creates a significant number of jobs locally.”