Plans unveiled for hi-tech hub to grow businesses and jobs
THE New Milton Advertiser and Lymington Times is celebrating its 90th anniversary with the unveiling of a new business hub to create jobs, support entrepreneurs and put the newspaper on a firm footing for the future.
After relaunching in colour in January, the Advertiser and Times is now putting the finishing touches to a new facility at its current site in New Milton, kitted out with hi-tech equipment, services and space for multiple start-up firms.
When it opens later in the year, the centre will boast a transformation of the old press room into the UK’s largest public fab-lab – putting under one roof advanced technology including 3-D printers, laser cutters, and computer-controlled machining facilities.
Eddie Curry, managing director and one of four generations of the Curry family to be involved in the A&T, said: “We aim to provide not only facilities for start-up firms but a full range of support for them to develop and expand.
“New Milton town and New Forest district councils are extremely supportive as they see this as a way not only of safeguarding many existing jobs but also providing additional employment opportunities especially for young people.”
The fab-lab is based on a concept developed by Professor Neil Gershenfeld of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Alongside it will be offices with high speed internet access for the newsroom and space for entrepreneurs to innovate, network and build their businesses. Future plans include a large photo and virtual reality studio.
The facility is a joint venture with IncuHive, which is run by serial entrepreneur Steve Northam who already has a similar business incubation centre in Chandlers Ford, near Southampton, and has been involved in setting up more than 30 firms.
Steve said: “The New Milton site will further expand the services IncuHive offers to support the next generation of entrepreneurs.
“The site will provide an exciting mix of quirky office spaces, engineering facilities, photo studios and a range of business start-up support services, all under the wing of IncuHive and its push for fun, flexible and creative work environments.”
New Milton Town Council’s town development manager, Suna King, said: “With ultrafast broadband installed in the town earlier this year, bringing speeds of up to 300Mb for businesses, IncuHive is another fantastic development for our local entrepreneurs and innovators.
“The IncuHive initiative also provides a hub for business support in the area.”
The centre is set for a launch date in the autumn when the A&T’s operation, including its news and advertising teams, will relocate into the new offices, accessible via Old Milton Road and Compton Road.
Eddie added: “In just over a year, our industry has seen seven independent newspaper groups selling out or ceasing to trade altogether, and many of the remaining ones facing an uncertain financial future.
“For us at the A&T, the move to colour has given a significant boost to our business income. Although we are now doing well, we do not take this for granted and need to plan for a successful independent future.
“We cannot remain immune from the challenges facing our industry and we want to do all we can to protect the future employment of our 35 staff.
“Both the closure of our printing press and the completion of our spacious new building provide us with a great opportunity to launch this new business venture.
“Whilst the newspaper will always remain at the centre of our plans, we need to generate additional revenue streams and do all we can to put the newspaper on a sound financial base for the future. The only independent local newspapers I see surviving well are those which diversify.”
To find out more visit www.incuhive.co.uk