An initiative to help fledgling aerospace and defence businesses in the UK's south-east has got under way with the Farnborough Enterprise Hub's (FEH) first event.

The FEH offers start-up companies services such as access to mentors, "clinics" to help companies protect their intellectual property, help with commercialising knowledge-based business ideas, direction to funding sources and access to market research data.

One company, working in the UAV sector, has already signed up for the FEH's help, and talks with four others are taking place, says Hub director Richard Hall. Speaking at the first event on 12 May, Sir Donald Spiers, Hub champion and chairman of AgustaWestland International, was confident it would attract more interest. "It provides a focal point for people with good ideas who might not know how to take them forward," he said.

The MoD's Defence Diversification Agency (DDA) is leading the project, and has contributed around £50,000 ($94,600) to it so far to add to the £250,000 over three years supplied by the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA).

Although the FEH will consider offering support to high-tech businesses "with a credible crossover" outside the aerospace and defence sector, its main focus will be knowledge-based, high-tech companies with high growth potential and an emphasis on intellectual property, says Hall.

Companies from across the south-east will be eligible for support from the FEH, as it is the first enterprise hub to be sector-based rather limited by region.

Damien McDonnell, chief executive of the DDA, says: "It's about turning globalisation into an opportunity, not a threat."

SEEDA launched FEH at last year's Farnborough air show.

Source: Flight International