A new agri-tech innovation centre has opened in Wool.

Called draperVENT, the hub will host research and innovation to advance automated livestock farming systems to achieve higher levels of animal welfare and sustainability.

There will also be a an apprenticeship programme with local colleges to encourage young people into the agri-tech sector.

The Agri-tech Innovation Centre at Dorset Innovation Park 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 £20million.

Sara Uzzell, Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) deputy chair, said: “Dorset’s agri-tech sector is worth over £108million 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.”

Following a £740,000 loan from Dorset LEP in July 2020, draperVENT increased the total investment to approximately £1.9million with which it purchased land and developed the new 1720m2 facility within a year.

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, managing director of draperGROUP, said: “After much planning and construction work, we are delighted to open our Agri-tech Innovation 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 it holding Enterprise Zone status.”