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Published: July 9, 2021 | Updated: July 10, 2021

Biz Gallery: Ribbon cutting marks the official opening of new Agri-tech Innovation Centre

Paul Draper, Founder, draperGROUP, and Sara Uzzell, Deputy Chair, Dorset LEP, officially launch the new Agri-tech Innovation Centre. Picture: Kate Shaw/KTPR.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

A ribbon cutting ceremony has been held to mark the official opening of a new Agri-tech Innovation Centre at Dorset Innovation Park.

Thanks to a £740,000 Growing Places Fund loan from Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in July 2020, draperVENT, which increased the total investment to approximately £1.9m, purchased land at the Enterprise Zone in Wool and developed a new 1,720 m2 facility within a year.

The new draperVENT hub – featured on Dorset Biz News in June – will host research and innovation to advance automated livestock farming systems to achieve much higher levels of animal welfare and sustainability.

The 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 more than £20m.

Sara Uzzell, Dorset LEP Deputy Chair, said: “Dorset’s agri-tech sector is worth over £108m 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, Founder, draperGROUP, pictured left, 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 its Enterprise Zone status.

“There is also the opportunity for us to collaborate with other innovative on-site businesses.”

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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Dorset Biz News Gallery – Pictures by Kate Shaw/KTPR

Matt West, Managing Director, draperVENT, and Shaun Gomm, Founder/Director, SG Financial

Richard Carswell, Finance Director, and Anne Martin, Finance Manager, draperVENT

Graham Frankpitt, Business Development Director, and Emma Mingo, Head of Sales, draperVENT

Sara Uzzell, Deputy Chair, Dorset LEP, and Kate Shaw, Managing Director, KTPR

Tracey Draper and Paul Draper, draperVENT

Anna Gonet, Administrator, and Michal Kapelusz. Procurement & Logistics Co-ordinator, draperVENT

Connor Tracy, Communications Officer, Dorset LEP, and Megan Crookes, Communications Coordinator

Tracey Draper, Catering Manager, and Penny Polhill, Office Manager, draperVENT

The draperVENT team