A REALITY TV star and former Southampton student has donated £100,000 of his own money to the technology sector in the area.

Sean Yazbeck, who won the fifth series of The Apprentice USA gave the money to fund a new digital innovation centre at Solent University.

It is set to open in the autumn and will provide students and businesses with access to "state-of-the-art" technologies and software in gaming, computing, virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

The donation will fully fund the facility and according to the university will help boost graduate employability by up to 15% thanks to several projects with established and start-up businesses.

A former Solent student himself, Sean is the founder and CEO of several technology companies including, Scopeworker, which specialises in telecommunications and 5G.

Bringing with him his knowledge and experience of the technology industry, Sean will be supporting the centre and working to help students as they engage with private enterprises.

Sean said: “British universities are increasingly driving the nation’s rapid growth in technology-based industries. Britain is perfectly positioned to becoming the world's next Silicon Valley. This relatively small donation is a contribution to supporting the next generation of British tech entrepreneurs. It is also a thank you to Solent University for being the launch pad for my career.”

Chancellor of Solent University, Theo Paphitis said: “Sean’s philanthropic support, guidance and leadership has been instrumental in the University being able to offer this new teaching and learning environment.“This donation will enable our students to not only develop high-quality skills through a range of really interesting activities but also access to opportunities for them to deliver commissioned commercial projects and services to meet the needs of the industry. A key skill when you’re engaging with the business sector.”

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Graham Baldwin, added: “The Sean Yazbeck Centre for Digital Innovation comes at an exciting time for Southampton and the wider Solent region. In a hugely fast-paced industry, it is crucial that our students have access to technologies that will expand their skill-set and see them through into employment.”

As part of graduation week, Solent University has pledged to continue supporting the region’s thriving technology community following its largest-ever donation from a former student.

The centre will build on the success of the university’s other similar initiatives, including Solent Creatives and Solent Productions.