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Agri-tech Innovation Centre opens for business

Posted on: 07/07/2021

Draper Ventilation Limited (draperVENT) opens the doors to a new Agri-tech Innovation Centre at Dorset Innovation Park – an Enterprise Zone based in Wool.

Thanks to a £740,000 Growing Places Fund loan from Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in July 2020, draperVENT, who increased the total investment to approximately £1.9 million, have purchased land and developed a new 1720m2 facility within a year. The new draperVENT hub will host research and innovation to advance automated livestock farming systems to achieve much higher levels of animal welfare and sustainability.

This project will not only consolidate draperVENT’s workforce in Dorset, but the company will create an apprenticeship programme with local colleges to encourage young people into the agri-tech sector. The Agri-tech Innovation Centre will provide space for education, training, research, product testing and demonstrations.

By 2025, Dorset LEP expects draperVENT to safeguard 18 jobs, create 20 new jobs and increase group-wide company turnover to over £20 million.

Sara Uzzell, Dorset LEP Deputy Chair, said: “Dorset’s agri-tech sector is worth over £108 million and has been identified as a high growth sector in Dorset’s Local Industrial Strategy. The facilities at the Agri-tech Innovation Centre will place draperVENT at the forefront of ventilation innovation.”

draperVENT, part of draperGROUP, currently designs, develops, and installs its own unique range of de-humidification, ventilation and renewable heating systems for buildings used in poultry farming.

Paul Draper, Managing Director of draperGROUP, said: “After much planning and construction work, we are delighted to open our Agri-tech Innovation Centre. We are especially excited to have a workplace where our 32 staff can meet face to face and utilise the space and equipment incorporated into this centre.”

“Dorset is the perfect place to take draperVENT to the next level because of the drive and determination to see agri-tech businesses succeed in the region. The Dorset Innovation Park plot provides us with an opportunity to develop, test, promote, store, and distribute our products while we benefit from reduced business rates thanks to it holding Enterprise Zone status. There is also the opportunity for us to collaborate with other innovative on-site businesses.”

Dorset LEP is committed to accelerating the productivity of the agri-tech sector, to maintain Dorset’s place at the forefront of farming techniques, provide skilled jobs for local people and to enhance food security in the UK.

The Agri-tech Innovation Centre project incorporates a £70,400 grant to draperVENT from Low Carbon Dorset, which is run by Dorset Council and the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to help Dorset businesses improve energy efficiency and incorporate renewable energy. £176,000 of the total project cost has been used to install rooftop solar PV, a ground source heat pump, underfloor heating, and LED lighting to the Agri-tech Innovation Centre. Four electric vehicle charging points have also been added to the plot.


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