David Ralph, Chief Executive
Thank you for a warm and friendly welcome – it’s been a busy, eventful and exciting first month.
We’ve launched the second pilot Digital Skills Partnership in the country and our chair, Steve Hindley, was part of a delegation of LEP leaders who met with the Prime Minister and other senior Ministers at Downing Street to impress the key role LEPs are playing in improving productivity across the UK and delivering a modern industrial strategy.
Only today (Thursday 28th June) the Government has announced our eagerly awaited Nuclear Sector Deal. HotSW LEP through the Nuclear South West Partnership has been instrumental in developing this deal; having submitted a detailed response to the Green Paper and working closely with Westminster & the nuclear industry to identify £50bn worth of opportunities in this sector for the region, and how they can best be delivered to support local supply chains, develop local skills and support prosperity. Nuclear South West is currently promoting this know-how at the world nuclear event in Paris.
Things are moving quickly so there’s no time to waste in strengthening our relationship with government and ensuring our key messages and propositions are clearly set out. In this regard, I’ve set up as many meetings as possible with our local MPs to explore how we can work together to improve prosperity for all.
Reflecting over what I’ve discovered over the last few weeks, I can see that the Heart of the South West has many strengths and opportunities. We also face some challenges that we need to address with vigour and pace. Our understanding of our area is strong and there’s lots of commitment to work collectively to raise the profile of the area.
We do have the eyes and ear of Government in that the south west is recognised as a key area of both opportunity and influence. They do recognise the immense potential for unprecedented transformational growth through the new emerging economies and technologies that will drive prosperity across the whole of the south west for all its communities.
On a LEP level, there’s expertise and commitment from a strong board and management team; a good evidence base with engaging propositions and an effective approach to sector-based investment work.
We’ll be looking at how we can improve our effectiveness by creating synergy amongst our leadership groups and avoiding unnecessary duplication.
Our mission is to raise the profile of the south west and double productivity by 2030; the task is a clear route map on how collectively we can achieve this.
We understand where we are, where we want to be; we need an agreed plan of how to get there.
The Government’s LEP Review is expected soon, which will help guide us in improving business engagement and local transparency. A recent important step forward is the establishment of the Heart of the South West Joint Committee to sit alongside the LEP board. The LEP works in partnership with this committee and is working on a detailed delivery plan for the Productivity Strategy, which is due to be consulted upon through local stakeholders in September, ahead of the Autumn Budget.
Sometimes we will need to work with other areas to maximise our impact, and on this basis our area has been nationally acclaimed for its part in the South West Rural Productivity Commission in partnership with Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Dorset and Swindon and Wiltshire LEPs. There’s more about that in this newsletter and it’s part of our increasingly strong partnership with neighbouring LEPs through the Great South West initiative – an important component of our profile raising.
The Great South West steering group has been established, chaired by HotSW Chair Steve Hindley, focussing initially on three areas: connectivity – including setting up a sub-regional transport partnership; rural productivity and trade & investment. My experience with the Midlands Engine should help in turning ambitions into outcomes.
The south west is a hugely diverse patch in terms of place, skills, sectors etc; and it’s our role to corral business engagement and create coherence across the whole area.
Increasingly areas have the opportunity to really drive their economies forward – locally and regionally. It’s a really exciting time but we will need to work in partnership to a set of common goals.
Money is important to secure some of these opportunities but so is our ambition, our ways of working and our tenacity. The voice of business working in tandem with other local partners is crucial to the future of the UK economy, and the PM emphasised its importance at the recent meeting. I’m really looking forward to my next eventful month leading HotSW LEP and reporting on what progress we’ve made.
South West partners welcome Nuclear Sector Deal with government
Partners have welcomed a £200m agreement between the nuclear industry and government which paves the way for major new investment and further job creation in the South West.
The government has set out the details of its Nuclear Sector Deal, which contains measures to unlock productivity and put the UK and the South West at the forefront of the industry worldwide.
It comes as partners in the South West promote £50bn worth of opportunities within the region to the global industry at the World Nuclear Exhibition in Paris this week.
â€œProposals announced by the Government are a strong vote of confidence in the nuclear industry to deliver on its growth ambitions and a ringing endorsement for the South West in particular,â€ said Matt Burley, chairman of the regional industry body Nuclear South West.
â€œPartners across the South West have worked closely with industry leaders and government to shape this deal. Now the sector must deliver. We have the talent, experience and knowledge in the South West to do just that and welcome the opportunity to get to work on the measures in this exciting and vitally important deal.â€
Measures announce in the sector deal include:
- Unlocking growth opportunities in the nuclear supply chain through joint Government and industry support for smaller companies to access higher value contracts and new markets. This adds to the support already in operation in the south west through the Hinkley Supply Chain, which has seen thousands of companies register interest in opportunities connected with the new power station being built in Somerset.
- Funding of £32m for a programme of research and development to support continued innovation in the sector. This work builds on the efforts of the South West Nuclear Hub and the University of Bristol to develop research and innovation that benefits the industry supply chain.
- Further support for the development of nuclear clusters of expertise, which can help to develop the industry in regions like the South West.
The South West is ideally placed to capitalise on these opportunities, through its involvement in projects which include Europe’s largest construction project at Hinkley Point C nuclear power station and its extensive supply chain, alongside decommissioning activity across four other sites and a defence programme spanning from Devonport in Plymouth to Abbey Wood near Bristol.
Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership Steve Hindley said: â€œThe South West has an incredible opportunity to take a leading role in supporting the government’s plans to put the UK at the forefront of the global nuclear industry.
â€œWe have £50bn worth of commercial opportunities to realise in this sector across the region; the partners have worked closely together to create this deal and stand ready to deliver.â€
First Council of LEP Chairs held at Downing Street
The Prime Minister met with LEP leaders last week at the Council of LEP Chairs to celebrate their achievements to date and to map out key areas for cooperation under the UK’s Modern Industrial Strategy.
Talks focussed on where LEPs carry maximum impact: delivering the objectives of the Modern Industrial Strategy in local areas, and investing in the skills people and businesses need.
Welcoming the Council of LEP Chairs, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
â€œLocal Enterprise Partnerships play a vital role in supporting businesses and innovation across England. From the New Anglia aviation academy – the first of its kind in the UK – to Enterprise M3’s 5G innovation centre, LEPs are developing skills, delivering infrastructure, and securing investment.
â€œThat’s why our Modern Industrial Strategy is clear that they must continue to play a crucial role in our plans to deliver further growth in local economies.
â€œToday’s first meeting of the Council marks a milestone in this partnership. By working even more closely together, we will continue to maximise our efforts in creating jobs, growth and investment right across the country, delivering long-term, meaningful results for local communities.â€
At the meeting, LEPs reinforced their commitment to help deliver a national Industrial Strategy, using their strengths and expertise to lead local strategies for economic growth and partner more effectively with local government.
Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, Steve Hindley CBE DL, said: â€œI am delighted to be part of this new era for the LEPs; in meeting the Prime Minister and other senior cabinet members, we’ve raised the profile of our collective voice and our role in generating prosperity for UK plc.
â€œSince the Heart of the South West LEP was set in up 2011, we’ve generated a programme of investment worth nearly three-quarters of a billion pounds; with over 60 projects either completed or underway to generate growth through capital builds and investment in skills; we’ve developed effective partnerships with our regional partners such as Nuclear South West and the Rural Productivity Commission; and we’re developing a robust and ambitious proposition to rival that of our friends in the north under the banner of the Great South West Partnership.
â€œI look forward to developing our relationships with Number 10, so that we can leverage the crucial strategic and financial investment that will enable the Heart of the South West to raise productivity and prosperity for all.â€
The Council of Local Enterprise Partnership Chairs was announced in the 2017 Industrial Strategy White Paper as a new forum for LEP business leaders to help shape national policy decisions and ensure closer cooperation with the Government on Industrial Strategy objectives.
Heart of the South West launches new Digital Skills Partnership to drive growth and skills
The Heart of the South West Digital Skills Partnership (HotSW DSP) was launched on 13 June at Plymouth Science Park, to bring together businesses, charities, the education sector and public-sector organisations to tackle local digital skills challenges to build thriving and inclusive local economies.
HotSW is one of only two areas in the country to benefit from being designated as a DSP pilot area, set up by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
The launch event included a video address from the Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, Margot James, and keynote speeches from leading figures from the digital arena.
The Minister added: â€œThis government is committed to improving the digital skills of people from all ages and backgrounds to make sure that no-one gets left behind. A Digital Skills Partnership in the South West will help employers plan for the future, recruit a skilled workforce and boost the region’s economy.â€
Over 50 businesses that are recognised as excelling in the digital sector attended, and leading protagonist for bringing about this partnership, Julie Hawker of Cosmic, chaired a lively panel discussion about digital skills in action. Reflecting on the event, the panel agreed that developing the digital skills of both business leaders and individuals could only be done through partnership working.
Presentations included Stephen Noaks of Lloyds Bank who explained the wide range of support the bank is bringing to developing digital skills; Mike Dieroff of Bluecreen IT who presented on their work to develop the skills needed to improve cyber security and strengthening cyber-crime awareness; Alisa Willows of Wolferstan Solicitors who shared her experience of the fundamental changes that digital brings to business practices; David White of White Bruce Development on how the use of intelligent data analytics has formed business strategy to improve competitive edge; Justin Dewhirst of Freeformers whose inspiring presentation outlined their mission to build a digital economy for all by creating a future workforce and training 50,000 18-30 year olds in the UK by 2020; and Zeshan Sattar of Comptia who gave a compelling insight into the effects of IT skills gaps on business and how they can be addressed.
Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, Steve Hindley CBE DL, said: â€œThe launch of the HotSW Digital Skills Partnership was a resounding success. The enthusiasm and expertise of the partners will ensure rapid effects of this new programme will be harnessed very quickly.
â€œThis area has a lot to gain and a lot to contribute. We’ve got thriving companies across Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay that are already leading the field as exemplars of digital knowledge. We’ve also got much potential for growth as many businesses are not reaching their full potential for productivity by deploying the right digital skills, and this has been recognised by the business community themselves, our opportunities for improvement have been recognised by Government.
â€œThe Heart of the South West Digital Skills Partnership will enable us to harness these new opportunities and drive forward productivity for all.â€
The vision is for the Heart of the South West to be a region where individuals and businesses have the digital skills to succeed and thrive, and the mission of the partnership is to lead and facilitate the ambition and development of digital skills and their use in business. Following the launch, a Digital Skills Partnership Manager will be recruited to drive forward tis work; the post will be advertised on the HotSW website soon.
More information, including the presentations from the launch, can be found here.
HotSW businesses asked to take the Digital Skills Survey – closes 6 July
All businesses in Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay are invited to complete this survey to assess the level of digital skills across the area. It applies to all businesses, not just those with digital specialisms. The survey aims to give us a better understanding the digital needs and current knowledge of our businesses, to enable us to help them to adapt to compete in the future through the new Digital Skills Partnership.
It takes no more than 10 minutes to complete and responses can be completely anonymous. The survey is here until 5pm on 6 July.
South West Rural Productivity Commission Report – Next Steps for South West LEPs
Building on the work of the Great South West partnership, four South West LEPs – Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Dorset, Heart of the South West and Swindon and Wiltshire – commissioned an independent enquiry to identify opportunities to stimulate rural productivity and growth. This resulted in the South West Rural Productivity Commission Report, published in October 2017.
The report received a positive response from national and regional stakeholders, and was mentioned in the Government’s Industrial Strategy as good example of collaboration to address shared challenges.
Since then, these four Great South West LEPs have been working to agree the next steps in implementing the recommendations of the report with GFirst and the West of England LEPs taking an active interest.
The LEPs have been reviewing the findings of the report; discussing them with Government and local partners and considering the options for progressing recommendations in three spatial workstreams: nationally, regionally and locally. Naturally some agendas will be important across all three but this approach will help us focus on the ‘golden threads’ of opportunities.
- National issues – Where we will have to work with other LEPs across the country to take forward issues that are of national significance. Key issues anticipated as being national are: broadband and mobile investment budgets, rural proofing of other national budgets and Brexit related opportunities and challenges.
- Regional issues – Where there are benefits to work collectively regionally in the south west to develop a Great SW ‘Rural Deal’. Key opportunities will be: making the most of broadband and mobile investment, regional opportunities for productivity and prosperity arising from tourism and food and drink.
- Local issues – Where we can support the progress of agendas specific to each LEP area. For example, each of our National Parks have come up with proposals on how they can pilot post-Brexit funding regimes.
The first phase is to refine the scope of the workstreams and build partnerships to develop and deliver them and work is progressing already.
We are currently supporting the establishment of a working group of all the Rural LEPs in the country on the back of this work. Business-case development and a tactical plan to engage with Government are the key next steps.
£25 million South West Institute of Technology plan reaches funding bid final
A bid to revolutionise digital technology education across the South West has reached the final phase of competition.
The Department for Education (DfE) is awarding £170 million to establish a network of Institutes of Technology across the country. They will offer top-quality training and apprenticeships in higher-level technical skills, aiming to bridge skills gaps in the economy by providing the knowledge and training that employers need.
Of 35 original applications, the South West Institute of Technology (SWIoT) bid, led by the University of Exeter, is one of 16 to progress to the final stage of the competitive process. The proposal draws on expertise from 12 partner organisations. Alongside the University of Exeter, the Institute would draw on expertise from the University of Plymouth, Bridgwater & Taunton College, City College Plymouth, Exeter College, Petroc, and Truro & Penwith College.
They are joined by digital experts from Oxygen House and the Met Office, both based in Exeter, and engineering and manufacturing experts from Babcock in Plymouth, TDK Lambda in Ilfracombe and Watson-Marlow Fluid Technology Group. This bid is also supported by both Heart of the South West and the Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).
Catering for up to 1,549 students, ranging from post A-level to degree apprenticeship level, the Institute would help put the region at the forefront of digital technology learning across the UK. It SWIoT would establish a range of new buildings and facilities across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, with state-of-the-art facilities proposed for Exeter, Truro, Plymouth, Barnstaple and the Bridgwater area.
The full list of the 16 bids invited to move to the final stage of the process is available on the DfE website
Heart of the South West Growth Hub
The Heart of the South West Growth Hub is a free, first point of contact for any pre-start, start up and established businesses seeking support and advice. Engaging with more than 4000 businesses since the service launched their local advisory team will provide independent diagnosis and referrals to existing business support services. The Growth Hub supports and links in with existing local and national initiatives without duplicating their offer.
Mapyx, a Geographic Information Solutions (GIS) provider which delivers tracking solutions throughout the UK for the public and private sector has realigned its business focus on the back of funded business advice offered through the Growth Hub. Read the full story
Rhino Play Limited, A family-owned commercial playground company, supplying playground equipment and safety surfacing, has relocated into larger premises after being referred to business funding opportunities by the HotSW Growth Hub. Read the full story
Contact the Growth Hub today on 03456 047 047