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Milestone for Future Towns Innovation Hub

Last updated 09 August 2021
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Topping Out ceremony

The University of Southampton Science Park Engineering Centre which will house the EM3-supported Future Towns Innovation Hub has reached a development milestone.

Michael Queen, Chair of Enterprise M3 LEP marked the development of the milestone at a special topping out ceremony with Professor Mark E. Smith, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton and representatives from the Southampton Science Park, the University of Southampton and Midas Construction.

The Engineering Centre will enhance collaboration opportunities for the University of Southampton Science Park and local business within the Enterprise M3 LEP area of influence. It will house the Future Towns Innovation Hub (FTIH), which will deliver a joint industry-academic Centre of Excellence by bringing together cutting edge ideas, commercial expertise and state-of-the-art research laboratories to facilitate happy, healthy and prosperous towns in the Enterprise M3 area and beyond.

Michael Queen Chair of Enterprise M3 LEP said:

EM3 is committed to ensuring our towns can meet the demands of the modern world by providing a sustainable, high quality of life for all those who live and work in them. The Future Towns Innovation Hub will offer world-leading 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

Michael Queen , Chair, EM3

This partnership working model also aims to provide a physical space for business and enterprise to access and interact with world leading expertise, skills, and facilities available within one of the UK's most outstanding engineering groups, in an environment that nurtures creativity and innovation.

The state-of-the-art building will provide specialist laboratory facilities and a ‘collaboration zone’ that will support a range of sectors such as eco-hydraulics, electronics, transport research, aerospace, energy, unmanned systems and a number of hydraulic flumes.

I am so pleased to be here today to celebrate this important milestone in the construction of our brand new Engineering Centre. This is a very important investment from the University that will help further our commitment to become a fully civic university. 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 their businesses. I look forward to the collaborative work we will complete with businesses throughout our community. I am very grateful for the support for this project from the Enterprise M3 LEP

Professor Mark E. Smith , President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton

We are delighted that the Future Towns Innovation Hub will be housed in our new Engineering Centre and it was a great pleasure to welcome everyone to Southampton Science Park today for the all-important topping out ceremony!

The Science Park is already a magnet for the commercialisation of research and new technologies in the M3 corridor and it is therefore uniquely positioned to host this new facility, and to create further collaboration opportunities through our networks. I’m absolutely confident that the positive societal impacts arising from this new centre will resonate significantly beyond our boundaries and for generations to come.

Dr Robin Chave , CEO, Southampton Science Park

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 experimental apparatus and laboratories in which local business and enterprise will be able develop relationships and collaborate with world leading academics to enhance the sustainability, 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.


Professor Paul Kemp , Academic Director of the Future Towns Innovation Hub

Midas Construction commenced building works on the Engineering Centre in November 2020 and is due to complete in early 2022.

Enterprise M3 LEP is funding almost £3m from the government’s Local Growth Fund along with £1.5m from Research England, to support the £14m project, which will focus on addressing challenges of energy efficient housing, water conservation, sustainable transport, carbon neutral waste management and recycling, and improving health outcomes.

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