PLANS for a new business centre in the heart of Southampton have been welcomed by city politicians.

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

Council Warwick Payne, deputy leader of Southampton City Council, said: “The council is always seeking to find new and innovative ways of bringing more high quality jobs to Southampton and the crucial part of that is dealing with important partners in the city such as the university.”

Coxford Putting People First councillor Don Thomas said:

“Anything that brings more business and prosperity to Southampton must be a good thing.

“In the past, I have always felt that we could do more for the city in terms of making it a good destination for business and selling Southampton for what it is.

“But recently, the council has done a lot more to make Southampton an attractive place to do business.”

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.”  

Under the plans, the Sir James Matthews building 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 university has applied to the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has applied 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.

Following the bid, the plans went to a 12-week consultation period for the public to have their say which began on Monday, December 18, and will run until 5pm on Monday, March 12.

Councillor Jeremy Moulton, leader of the conservative opposition on the council said: “It’s a great initiative, Solent University has a great track record of supporting business initiatives.

“It’s a great site for the centre and will bring in lots of jobs and money to the city

“I hope that they get the money that they are bidding for from the LEP that will be great for Southampton.”