A TOPPING out ceremony has been held at a £14m engineering centre being built at the University of Southampton Science Park.

The ceremony was attended by representatives from the university, the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Midas Construction, which began building the facility in November last year.

The state-of-the-art centre will provide specialist laboratory facilities and a "collaboration zone" supporting a range of sectors.

It will house the Future Towns Innovation Hub (FTIH), which will deliver a centre of excellence by combining cutting edge ideas, commercial expertise and state-of-the-art research.

Professor Paul Kemp is academic director of the hub.

He said: "We look forward to providing an environment in which creativity and innovation needed to solve complex interdisciplinary challenges faced by our local towns will be nurtured.

"The hub will provide access to state-of-the art laboratories in which business and enterprise will be able develop relationships and collaborate with world-leading academics to enhance the health, happiness and prosperity of our urban environments.

"The insights gained and technologies generated by these activities will have far-reaching impact and benefit to the UK and wider global community."

Michael Queen, chairman of the LEP, echoed the importance of ensuring towns could meet the demands of the modern world.

He added: "The hub will offer engineering research excellence from the University of Southampton to business partners and town leaders to provide opportunities and practical solutions to real problems, including some of our greatest environmental challenges.”

Dr Robin Chave is chief executive of the science park, which is based at Venture Road, Chilworth.

He said: "It is uniquely positioned to host this new facility and to create further collaboration opportunities through our networks.

"I’m absolutely confident the positive societal impacts arising from this new centre will resonate significantly beyond our boundaries and for generations to come.”

Professor Mark Smith, President and Vice-Chancellor of the university, described the topping out ceremony as an important milestone.

He added: "The centre will help to grow and retain local talent and maximise the impact of our research related to the environmental and sustainability challenges faced by local towns and businesses."


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