Digital Investment Programme

Applications are now closed.


The Heart of the South West LEP has identified ‘Digital’ as the highest priority for future clean and inclusive growth, investing over £10 million to support improvements to mobile and digital connectivity, increase digital skills, modernise the area’s Further Education College ICT offer, and establish a 5G offshore pilot.

The LEP has agreed to invest a further £8 million in a new Digital Investment Programme targeting skills, business support, infrastructure and innovation. As part of this programme, up to £2 million of capital funding has been made available to tackle key economic and societal challenges through data analytics and digital innovation, which is a priority in the Heart of the South West’s plan to Build Back Better

Specifically, the LEP is inviting applications for funding towards one or more projects to deliver the following outcomes:

  • Growth in the environmental intelligence market, exploiting the area’s data and research capabilities.
  • Maximisation of clean growth applications from marine geospatial innovation.
  • Reduced emissions from agriculture through the acceleration of development, commercialisation and dissemination of data analytics and AI technologies.
  • Increased innovation through 5G, with a particular focus on delivering net zero ambitions.
The funding is only available for Projects within the Heart of the South West LEP area covering the administrative areas of Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay. Bidders must be able to demonstrate a track record of project implementation and an understanding of digital projects.
Those interested in applying should complete the Expression of Interest form and submit it to Claire Gibson, Head of Delivery, at by 5pm on 9 February 2022. Please include Digital EOI in the subject line. 
A shortlist of bids will then be invited to submit a Full Business Case before an investment decision is made in June 2022.

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    David Ralph

    Chief Executive

    David Ralph started as Chief Executive of Heart of South West LEP at the beginning of June 2018. Previously, he had spent 5 years as CEO of the Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire (D2N2) LEP from 2013 where he oversaw the development of the D2N2 Strategic Economic Plan and sector strategies, 3 Growth Deals with HM Government to deliver a £1billion capital investment programme, securing and implementing £200m ESIF programme, the Derby and Nottingham Enterprise Zone, the D2N2 Skills Deal and Time for Innovation programme, community fund and led the executive team to develop the HS2 East Midlands hub. He was also closely involved in the proposed North Midlands Devolution Deal and one of the key architects in establishing the Midlands Engine, chairing the officer steering group. Whilst in this role David was a NED of the Nottingham Enterprise Zone, and Marketing NG, the Outer Estates Foundation and a Governor of Nottingham College and on the advisory Board of Nottingham Business School.

    Before the East Midlands, David was CEO of the Have Gateway Partnership working closely with local stakeholders including the ports of Felixstowe, Harwich and Ipswich and BT Adadastral Park across Suffolk and Essex and prior to that was Chief Exec of the Barton Hill New Deal for Communities programme in Bristol and the Nelm Development Trust in Norwich.

    David is a keen sailor, walker and trail runner.