A GROUND-breaking ceremony has heralded the start of construction of the £11million Digital Innovation Centre at Firepool, Taunton.

The building, being developed by Somerset County Council, is key to plans for recovery and transformation of the local economy.

The 2,613 square-metre four-storey building will feature office, workshop, collaboration and meeting space, as well as innovation support services targeted at digital economy businesses.

It will meet the demand for an innovation centre for the local digital economy and for high-quality managed offices/workspace for home-grown start-ups and small and medium sized enterprises, while attracting new businesses and inward investment.

The project is funded by the county, the Government’s Getting Building Fund and the European Regional Development Fund, with further contributions from Somerset’s Business Rates Retention Fund and Somerset West and Taunton Council.

Cllr David Hall, responsible for economic development, planning and community infrastructure at County Hall, said: “I'm delighted to join our partners in marking such an important milestone as we move forward with the Digital Innovation Centre.

“This scheme will help meet the demand for top-quality business accommodation for digital businesses in Somerset. It will see a number of highly-skilled jobs created and contribute to improving economic productivity and prosperity in Somerset.”

Karl Tucker, chairman of Heart of the SW Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It’s great to see work starting on the Digital Innovation Centre on the Firepool site, which will provide fantastic high-grade workspace for local tech-based businesses and dedicated innovation support to help them grow.

"We’re delighted to have been able to support this project from the HotSW LEP’s Getting Building Fund.”

Cllr Marcus Kravis, executive member for economic development at SWT, said: “We've been working with Somerset County Council to secure delivery of the Digital Innovation Centre on our flagship Firepool site, allowing it to be delivered concurrently with the infrastructure, residential, commercial and leisure elements which will form part of our detailed plans.

"Next year will see some major activity on site as we start to deliver several simultaneous projects at Firepool.

“We have also been working closely with Digital Somerset and other stakeholders to maximise the potential of this high-quality office and collaboration space to create jobs locally, and attract growth and investment.”

Rob Woolcock, director at developers Willmott Dixon said, “This is a landmark project for the Firepool site, and we understand how important this is to Taunton’s development as a regional hub for innovation and business development."