THE first building at a £5.7 million state-of-the-art innovation centre for the Ministry of Defence has been completed.

When the entire project is finished, the Defence BattleLab centre at Dorset Innovation Park, Winfrith, will contain new office and workshops for the MOD.

It will create 90 jobs and is expected to boost the economy by £4m in its first 10 years.

The 450 square metre Army 'BattleLab' element of the site has now been completed, with defence personnel set to begin using the facility shortly.

This building will enable the MOD to work in collaboration with academic institutions and a range of businesses to develop new products and technologies.

Some 1,100 square metres of office space and conferencing facilities are on track to be completed later this year.

British Army Brigadier Matt Cansdale, head of future force development, said: “We are delighted that the Army and Defence BattleLab remains on course for completion this year despite recent turmoil.

"This reflects a huge amount of excellent collaborative work from all the partners in this project and is indicative of the strong relationships and commitment from the whole team.

"The completion of this workshop is an important steppingstone and will allow us to start using this facility in its intended purpose of engaging with industry in a more collaborative manner.

"Future Soldier is the British Army’s plan to transform itself into an asymmetric army for the digital age.

"It is a bold and transformative plan, and the Army BattleLab will be at the heart of how we deliver on this plan."

The facility marks the collaboration between the MOD, Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Dorset Council.

Cecilia Bufton, Dorset LEP chairman, said: “The Dorset partnership of Dorset LEP, Dorset Council, local business and academia are committed to supporting the objectives of the British Army to bring a focal point for high tech and innovative industry to respond to the army's challenges and future strategy. We share the ambition of the army to grow an ecosystem of highly innovative companies."

Meanwhile, Cllr Tony Ferrari, portfolio holder for economic growth, assets and property at Dorset Council, said: “The Defence Battlelab reflects Dorset’s historical links with the army, forged over many generations, married with our current place at the cutting edge of technology.

"There are many strands that have come together to make Dorset the right place for the Defence Battlelab, such as Lulworth Ranges and 5G coverage, so it’s exciting to see institutions from different centuries brought together to deliver solutions for today’s armed forces.

"We’re pleased at the progress being made with this project and I personally cannot wait to see the finished facility later in the year."