Work is due to start on the new centre at the Barnstaple site next summer, opening in January 2020. The funding came from the European Regional Development Fund and the centre will be technology-based research and innovation hub for local SMEs and start-up business, in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, advanced manufacturing, electronics, food processing and agri-tech. With shared-use laboratories and housing the very latest 3D printing and design facilities, the centre will be the perfect setting for local entrepreneurs to hone concepts and develop prototypes. The project will see a refurbishment of the colleges existing G Block, to create 4,961 sq. ft of fully-equipped modern design development spaces, prototyping areas and meeting rooms. Clients will have 24-hour access to the building via a separate entrance, so will not be restricted by the opening hours of the college. Jason Quinn, Petrocs estates manager, said: Many small to medium sized businesses dont have the facilities or funds to enable them to get ideas off the ground. We hope that our centre will open up new opportunities for them and break down some of the barriers that have currently been holding them back. It is hoped that the ventre will encourage innovative relationships, promoting an exchange of information between industries, creating the opportunity for small start-up ventures and cottage industries to develop and grow through knowledge transfer partnerships. Diane Dimond, principal and CEO of Petroc, said: This is a very exciting time for Petroc. We already work closely with local businesses, and understand their specific needs, so I know that the new facility will create even more opportunities for them. The new centre will be incredibly inspiring for our current students, as they will witness first-hand the opportunities available to them here in North Devon, and Im sure many will use the facilities either whilst at college or after leaving, to develop their own business ideas. It is intended the new facility will also have strong links with Devon County Councils proposed collaborative workspace for entrepreneurs and small businesses at Roundswell, as part of a wider strategy to foster a culture of enterprise and innovation in the area. Over the last 10 years, Petroc has implemented a variety of new build and refurbishment projects worth in excess of £20million.