A £1.7 million research and innovation centre is being established which will create jobs and provide apprenticeship opportunities for young people in Dorset.

Based at Dorset Innovation Park Enterprise Zone, Wool, Draper Ventilation Limited (draperVENT) will use the site to further develop computerised climate control systems for the agricultural sector.

The project will centralise the company’s existing workforce in Dorset and create an apprenticeship programme with local colleges, such as Kingston Maurward, to encourage young people into the agri-tech sector.

Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has allocated a £740,000 Growing Places Fund loan draperVENT, which will increase the total investment to £1.7 million, for the purchase of land and development of the centre.

Building works will include a new HQ for office space, R&D testing and training facilities for existing and potential customers. Construction is set to commence this month on centre, which will be used for product demonstrations, storage and product distribution.

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

Paul Draper, Managing Director of draperGROUP, said: “Dorset was the perfect place to take draperVENT to the next level because of its drive and determination to see agri-tech businesses succeed.

"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 and the opportunity for collaboration with other technical on-site businesses."

Dorset has a long and proud tradition of farming and the county's agri-tech sector is now worth more than £108 million. Dorset LEP says it is committed to accelerating the productivity of this high-growth sector, to maintain Dorset’s place at the forefront of farming techniques, provide skilled jobs and to enhance food security in the UK.

Luke Rake, Principal of Kingston Maurward College and Dorset LEP board member said: “Dorset’s Local Industrial Strategy identifies agri-tech as a high-growth sector for Dorset and it’s fantastic to have innovative companies like draperVENT settle in our county. Now more than ever we’re looking to boost agri-tech productivity and earning power in Dorset. We’re all committed to supporting scale-up businesses, innovative people, infrastructure developments and new ideas."

draperGroup was formed in 1995 to sell and install ventilation systems in poultry broiler and free-range layer houses throughout the UK. The company now designs, develops and install their own unique de-humidification, heating and ventilation systems for bespoke buildings used in poultry farming.