The UK is set to build a new defence innovation centre for the army at Dorset county to facilitate the development of new technologies.
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has committed £3.1m for the project, while the Dorset Council and Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership will contribute an additional £2.6m.
The Army BattleLab will be located at the Dorset Innovation Park and will feature an engineering workshop, as well as working and conference areas for joint use.
Once complete, the facility will enable the MoD to work with small and medium enterprises, and academic institutions to develop new products and technologies with commercial potentiality.
The army will use the centre as Army Research Innovation & Experimentation Laboratory (ARIEL) to work with the industry to improve existing technology and equipment, and experiment new ideas.
The army and MoD are expected to use the facility for at least 15 years.
In the first ten years, the BattleLab is expected to create 90 new local jobs and provide a £4m boost to the local economy.
UK Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said: “The army’s BattleLab in Dorset will build close industry relationships, whilst exploiting cutting-edge technologies to keep our Armed Forces sharp in the face of new and changing threats.
“This initiative will foster talent and innovation and will drive future success.”
General Staff Deputy Chief Lt Gen Tickell said: “We are looking forward to progressing The Army BattleLab initiative; which is not just an example of our commitment to engage, but also an opportunity to extend the effort outside big set pieces like AWE.
“The chance to accelerate prototype warfare, testing and experimentation, and lead this area of Defence innovation, and to work with industry on a more regular footing.”
The BattleLab is expected to become operational early next year.