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£140k funding boost for iAero Centre to pioneer ‘Factory of the Future’

The Heart of the South West LEP has announced £144,500 to support high-value engineering Factory of the Future digitisation for SMEs. 

The funding will allow the iAero Centre at Yeovil to install an Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) Factory+ Demonstrator and equipment, to create a dedicated digital data demonstration space. The project will focus on harnessing the power of data to drive innovation and collaboration in the aerospace and advanced manufacturing sectors. 

iFACTORe will allow companies in the industry to collect and analyse vast amounts of data, with the potential to enhance efficiency and productivity whilst also fostering innovation and competitiveness.

Karl Tucker, Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, said: “This sector is vital to the region’s growth, so funding for projects like these is pivotal. iFACTORe at the iAero Centre signifies the importance of the aerospace and advanced manufacturing industry in the region.” 

The region is set to become a leading example of how data can be effectively utilised in the aerospace and advanced manufacturing sectors in a new era of technological advancement and economic growth. 

Austin Chick, head of iAero Centre said: “This funding offers complimentary capabilities at iAero that will benefit SMEs within the aerospace and high value manufacturing sector looking to collaborate on new projects, technologies and skills.”

Find out more about the iAero Centre.


Comprised of business leaders from across our key sectors, the LEP Board oversees the programme of infrastructure, business support and skills projects being delivered by 2025.

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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.