Southampton port

Solent Freeport

Solent Freeport is bringing about an innovation revolution in maritime, autonomy and green growth.

Anchored around the port cities of Portsmouth and Southampton, the Solent is driving a powerful £7.7 billion maritime economy, making the Solent a thriving hub for the world’s marine and maritime sector.

Solent Freeport offers a range of incentives relating to customs, tax, planning, infrastructure, and innovation. See further details on the benefits of Freeports.

Tax benefits are available at the Freeport’s 3 tax sites, located at:

  • Southampton Water, comprising a range of unique business clusters

  • Navigator Quarter, offering flexible, modern spaces for innovative companies

  • Dunsbury Park, a prime industrial and manufacturing business park

Combined, the 3 sites cover 430 hectares of prime development land.

Port of Southampton

Investment type:



Creative industries, Technology, Professional and business services, Green Shipping

Contact the opportunity lead

Michael Green

Michael Green

Head of Freeports and Investment Zones

Sector and market opportunity

The Solent has world-leading capability and opportunities across maritime, including:

  • defence
  • leisure marine and cruise
  • research and development (R&D)
  • professional services
  • digital maritime
  • low and zero carbon technologies
  • marine autonomy and robotics
  • being a world leader for maritime education and training

A dedicated Solent Freeport Green Growth Institute (SFGGI) will provide a centre of excellence in green skills and jobs, supporting environmental innovation for businesses and enabling green growth for the UK.

Growth prospects

The Solent’s marine and maritime sector is one of its largest and most productive. It has a forecasted growth in Gross Value Added (GVA) of 7.2% by 2025, with productivity being boosted by the region’s Freeport status.

Aligning with the UK government’s target to reach net zero by 2050, the area has developed its own ‘ten-point plan’ for building back greener and will be establishing a new industry-led partnership for decarbonisation in the Solent.


The Solent’s location makes it one of the UK’s most important gateways to European and global markets, with a population exceeding 1.25 million and over 42,000 businesses operating in the area.

The Southampton Water tax site comprises several areas, including:

  • Solent Gateway

  • ABP Redbridge

  • ABP Strategic Land Reserve

  • ExxonMobil

  • Fawley Waterside

Each of these have unique offerings for investors to locate and thrive in.

The Navigator Quarter is a 112-acre tax site within the Solent Freeport providing state-of-the-art research, manufacturing and industrial facilities. The area has been identified as a potential location for a new science park, offering nearly 9,000 square metres of high-tech R&D and light manufacturing space, along with a Tech Box providing office space and research facilities.

Dunsbury Park is an award-winning business park next to the A3(M) on the London/Solent corridor. Owned by Portsmouth City Council, it is a £140+ million project which offers 43 hectares for development for units from 20,000 to 200,000 square feet. The site also has planning permission for 665,000 square feet of manufacturing industrial, distribution and office space.


Strategic national connectivity of the Solent by rail, highway and air provides a strong geographic advantage.

Fly from Southampton Airport, an award-winning regional airport with flights to around 40 destinations across the UK and Europe.

The Solent region has direct highway and rail links to London and the manufacturing heartlands in the Midlands and the North.

The Solent’s 3 ports lie just 20 nautical miles from the world’s busiest shipping route from Shanghai to Rotterdam and have direct routes to over 70 ports around the world.

Local talent and skills

The Solent’s maritime economy employs 198,500 people, including 45,100 direct and 113,000 in the supply chain.

The area benefits from 3 universities: the University of Southampton, the University of Portsmouth, and Solent University - each with internationally leading specialisms and expertise. This is complemented by world-leading research at the National Oceanography Centre, and a very strong employer-led further education offer. From 2023, a new Institute of Technology, specialising in maritime engineering and digital, will be supporting employees based in the Freeport.

Region Spotlight
South of England


The region is home to 21 million people. It offers opportunities across a wide range of sectors from nuclear and aerospace, to life science and new technologies. There are vibrant clusters of expertise spanning 5G, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

View all investment opportunities in South of England

National government support

As specially designed areas with beneficial economic regulations, Freeports can help you achieve sustained growth, and may be able to save you time and money through:

Tax reliefs

  • Stamp Duty Land Tax relief
  • enhanced Capital Allowances for investment in plant & machinery and structures & buildings
  • five years of Business Rates relief
  • employer National Insurance contributions relief

Customs and Planning

  • simplified customs procedure
  • deferrals and exemptions from duty payments
  • VAT suspension within customs sites
  • supportive local planning environments with constructive public-private partnerships

Innovation Offer

  • extensive public investment in skills and infrastructure
  • access to the Freeport Regulation Engagement Network (FREN), enabling direct and early engagement between businesses, Freeports, and regulators
  • access to the Freeport Innovation Network (FIN), a collaboration vehicle for Freeports to shape and organise their innovation activity as a collective

Success stories – Ocean Infinity

Founded in 2017 and based in Austin, Texas, Ocean Infinity is a marine robotics company that deploys autonomous robots, typically in fleet formation, to obtain large amounts of information from the oceans and seabed.

In March 2021, Ocean Infinity partnered with the University of Portsmouth, Airborne Robotics, and Bentley Telecom, to develop an autonomous offshore wind farm inspection fleet by 2022. The fleet will consist of unmanned drone swarms and a marine robotic vessel by 2022. The project is receiving £1.6 million in funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

In September 2021, Ocean Infinity set up its state-of-the-art facility in the Woolston regeneration area of Southampton. The company located its control, data, maintenance, and engineering centre in the former Vosper Thornycroft shipyard. The centre will be developed as a remote control and data centre for robotic vessels, ensuring the Solent area has a significant role to play in the next chapter of marine development.

Contact the opportunity lead

Michael Green

Michael Green

Head of Freeports and Investment Zones

Other opportunities