The Isle of Wight Council, in partnership with New Forest District Council, has successfully attracted funding from the European Regional Development Fund to bring a new business support network together.
The new project will invest a total of over £2.8M, with ERDF supplying half the funds, and the rest coming from the partner organisations.
The project will run until 2023, and will employ professional advisors to help Island people set up and develop their businesses, and provide practical help to do so.
A building in Northwood will be restored and fitted out, to make a place where start-up firms can find a somewhere to work at a reasonable price, as well as support, networking, and resources aimed particularly at those just setting up in business.
There will also be a network of small office facilities in other towns on the Isle of Wight and in the New Forest, to allow the services being provided by the Northwood hub to be accessed remotely and reduce the need to commute to work.
A programme of business support will be available to give firms access to information, expertise and connections from across the region and beyond.
The project will not be giving grant funding directly, but will help Island entrepreneurs understand how they can access all types of business funding if they need it.
Cllr Julie Jones-Evans said: “We have been working towards setting up a business incubator project for some time, and so I am delighted that, with this new funding award, it is finally becoming a reality.
“Co-working spaces are a model which are proven to help businesses grow and thrive, in an atmosphere of mutual support and inspiration.
“There are 32 business incubators across the south-east of the country, but none so far on the Island.
“This Island hub will have business support spokes going across the Island and New Forest creating a network of support for businesses.
“We know from our own research that a large majority of those local business leaders who commented to us believe that the lack of an incubator facility is holding back the Island’s economy.
“So for budding Island entrepreneurs currently working off the kitchen table or in the garden shed – good news!”