On the 23rd March, companies, higher education establishments, local authorities and other partners came together to celebrate the successful first full year of the Solent Growth hub Enterprise Voucher scheme. The event taking place just one year after the launch of the entire project, sought to bring together the companies and partners that had benefitted from the scheme and explore what future opportunities there might be to work together.

Dr Alistair McDermott from Research and Innovation services opened the event by taking us through the journey that the project had been on so far.  Highlighting the local and regional authorities that had come together as well as the Universities from Portsmouth and Southampton in order to win the funding that would make it happen.  He highlighted the partnerships wish that the hub would have long and lasting impact.  Rather than launch into a long series of presentations we then heard from the businesses themselves through a montage video that they contributed to (https://vimeo.com/123070354).  The video explained the journey that they hub had been on and gave an insight into the next steps that a coherent business community could take together to continue the upward trajectory of growth that all the attendees were looking to achieve.

Peter Hooley then explained that the University was keen to explore the possibility of a collegiate business community set around industrial themes or geographies that work together to make a better business environment for all.  To explore this idea, businesses took part in facilitated groups where the potential issues and solutions facing the businesses were discussed. First around three themes: Maritime, Advanced Technologies and Manufacturing and then again around the geographical regions: Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, and Southampton.  Some of the issues raised was the cost of broadband and electricity, readiness of graduate engineers to join small companies and access to funding.  Some of the solutions put forward were buying cooperatives for small businesses and greater involvement of small businesses in University curricula.

The event ended with a firm promise from the University of Portsmouth business school to establish these small business communities and a toast from the Dean of the Business School Gioia Pescetto “to you, the region, its growth and your business!”

See the event round up video here: https://vimeo.com/124390817