Work has started on a new state-of-the-art building at Falmouth University which will be used to incubate new spin-out tech companies.

Launchpad is a specially-designed space to support the university's postgraduates, help them develop business opportunities and ultimately create the next generation of Cornwall-based technology companies.

The £6.5 million building, which is on the Penryn Campus, is due to be completed next summer ready for occupation in September.

It will be home to business entrepreneurship graduates and postgraduates in a studio workspace environment which will be similar to the university's Academy for Innovation and Research (AIR) building.

The project also includes an innovative building that links AIR and Launchpad and will form the main entrance to both. Known as The Link, it will also provide office, reception, exhibition and meeting space, and the vice chancellor's office.

Neil Sansum, architect director from BDP's Bristol office, said: "The Academy for Innovation and Research building is considered by the university's chief executive to be one of the finest buildings on the campus because of the quality of light and space. When we were asked to put forward designs for Launchpad, these had to be in keeping with what we achieved with AIR and it's exciting to see the vision now becoming a reality."

Both buildings exploit the natural topography of the site, which drops away dramatically to the north. One key feature of the Launchpad building will be the timber, Glulam beams which spring from the hillside and form the curved roof, lending an important natural element to the interior and connecting the building to its surroundings.

The Link building is designed to be the focal point of the project and will be clad in reflective metal, creating a landmark building for the university. It also makes use of the dramatic lay of the land and offers impressive views across the Cornish countryside to the north.

Neil added: "It's important that the design of the new building supports the nature of the activities that will take place inside it. Our aim was also to create a space which encourages interaction and allows for frequent changes in layout. It's an exciting space which places forward-thinking design at its heart."

The Launchpad business incubator will bring together skilled graduates and postgraduates, a package of specialist support and Falmouth University's research development and innovation infrastructure and industry. It aims to create new companies in direct response to an identified industry demand.