DORSET Innovation Park has received a prestigious award from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Purbeck District Council (PDC) and Dorset County Council (DCC) won the award for the most innovative 'small business friendly programme or project'.

Dorset Innovation Park - the county's second largest employment site - received Enterprise Zone status in April, which means businesses can receive incentives to set up or expand there.

The employment park accommodates 56 hectares of employment land.

Twenty new employment units, part of a £2.5m workspace project launched by PDC and County Hall, are fast approaching completion.

This project was started after the site's previous owners went into receivership.

PDC leader Cllr Gary Suttle said that, along with the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the councils took "decisive action to save the site from total collapse."

He explained: "We were committed to restoring confidence to existing companies and secure its future as the base for advanced engineering businesses.

"The former nuclear energy test site presented a unique and challenging opportunity for economic growth and I am proud that we have been recognised for our commitment."

The park is already home to world leaders in marine, defence and advanced engineering, including Atlas Elektronik, QinetiQ and Optasense.

Interim director of Dorset LEP, Rob Dunford, said: "For Dorset LEP the Enterprise Zone represents significant government commitment to Dorset's long-term economic growth.

"The development of Dorset Innovation Park Enterprise Zone is a priority for the LEP. We are accountable to government for the success of the Enterprise Zone over a 25 year period and will continue to work closely with our local partners on taking it forward."

Meanwhile, DCC economy cabinet member Cllr Deborah Croney said she was delighted the initiative had been recognised by the FSB.

She added: "Helping to grow our small business community is a key priority, not just in terms of economy and growth, but also for employment opportunities in the local economy."