Latest News | March 2021


Introduction David Ralph, HotSW LEP CEO

David Ralph

Welcome to our March newsletter. Spring is definitely in the air and it’s great to see our children and young people back in schools and restrictions beginning to lift along the lines of the Government’s roadmap. Whilst there is a significant way to go before life starts to feel more ‘normal’, we remain cautiously optimistic about the gradual re-opening of all sectors and can begin to more confidently plan for life post-pandemic.

With that in mind, the Heart of the South West LEP is this week publishing its Build Back Better plan, which we have been consulting with our partners on since January.

The pandemic has served to intensify the long-standing challenges our area faces, so it is vital that post-COVID, we look to innovate and build back better than before. We need to address these challenges and harness the unique opportunities in the Heart of the South West, in order to deliver a more resilient, stronger, prosperous area that is focused on clean and inclusive growth. The plan is unashamedly ambitious – please read below to find out more.

Alongside the development of Build Back Better, we have been continuing with the delivery of our existing funding programmes. The majority of our Growth Deal funded projects are now reaching completion, and the last few agreements are being put in place for the 24 projects that successfully bid for a share of our £35.4m Getting Building Fund last year.

With these funding programmes in delivery or completed, we will be increasing our focus on delivering the transformational opportunities for the area through Building Back Better.

We are delighted to receive the announcement of the successful £2.4m consortium bid to UKRI’s Future Flight Challenge, which will see the first electric flight in the UK taking place at Exeter Airport. The Plymouth and South Devon Freeport announced in the Budget earlier this month is fantastic news for the area too, and is a key part of realising the potential of the high tech marine cluster around Plymouth – the LEP will be working on this with partners through the summer.

We will share more on the LEP’s plans and priorities over the coming months. In the meantime, wishing you all a happy Easter.

David Ralph
Chief Executive

LEP launches plan to Build Back Better

Heart of the south west LEP - Latest News | March 2021

The LEP has this week published its Build Back Better plan, which is rooted in the ambitious vision of the Local Industrial Strategy and has a distinctive focus to deliver clean and inclusive growth.

The plan has been developed through a consultation with the LEP’s partners over the last two months. The robust evidence base identifies Energy, High Value Engineering and Digital as the dynamic heart of our local economy. It focuses on accelerating these opportunities through the delivery of eleven transformational LEP sponsored programmes of activity.


Major Milestone Achieved for iAero Centre

Heart of the south west LEP - Latest News | March 2021

The iAero Centre, a cutting-edge aerospace innovation facility in Yeovil, is flying high with the completion of construction work and the start of the centre’s fit-out.

Somerset County Council has worked with a range of partners to develop the iAero Centre, which will provide high-quality workspace and specialist support services to facilitate collaboration and innovation amongst local aerospace supply chain businesses.

Contractor Willmott Dixon has now completed construction of the building on land owned by Leonardo Helicopters and the building has been handed over to Somerset County Council defect-free.

Internal fit-out is now under way with the Centre expected to open its doors to tenants and users later in 2021.


First electric commuter flight to take place at Exeter Airport

Heart of the south west LEP - Latest News | March 2021

The first electric commuter flight in the UK will take place at Exeter Airport, following the announcement of a successful bid to UK Research and Innovation’s £30 million Future Flight Challenge.

The bid was submitted by a consortium led by Ampaire, a leader in electric aviation, with partners including Rolls-Royce Electrical, University of Nottingham, Loganair Ltd, Exeter and Devon Airport Ltd, Cornwall Airport Ltd, Heart of the South West LEP, and UK Power Network Services.

The team has received £2.4M from the Future Flight Challenge for its £5M 2ZERO programme, to demonstrate hybrid-electric aircraft on regional routes in the South West of the UK.


LEP launches £1m loan fund for innovative Natural Capital projects

Heart of the south west LEP - Latest News | March 2021

The Heart of the South West LEP has launched a £1 million fund for local businesses and organisations to develop and finance natural capital projects that support the natural environment, whilst at the same time providing wider economic benefits.

The Natural Capital Demonstrator (NCD) Fund is available for capital expenditure on a loan basis. This funding approach has been designed to test a new way of financing the protection and enhancement of the area’s natural assets.

The LEP is hoping the unique fund will be able to support a portfolio of projects that will deliver new methodologies towards natural capital that can be replicated in other areas and scaled up.


Progress update on CDS full fibre network rollout

Heart of the south west LEP - Latest News | March 2021

Preparations are well underway for the roll-out of the full fibre network through the recently awarded contracts from the Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) programme.

Around 56,000 homes and businesses will be provided with access to Gigabit capable broadband by internet providers Airband, Truespeed and Wessex Internet.


Virtual jobs fair links hundreds of digital learners with SW employers

Local employers are invited to attend a free virtual jobs fair on April 20th to meet learners who have invested in their skills and successfully completed an intensive 12-week Train4Tomorrow bootcamp in the following growth areas: cyber, IT, data science, digital for healthcare, welding, engineering, construction, photonics, marine renewables and electrical.

Employers can register to attend and will have the chance to showcase their business to the hundreds of newly-trained learners across the region.  Train4Tomorrow offers free high quality, digital and technical training to adults in Devon, Plymouth, Somerset, Torbay, Cornwall and Dorset.


Guidance for businesses post-Brexit

Now that the UK has left the EU and the transition period has ended, there are new rules for businesses that do business with the EU. If you’re not sure what you need to do, visit the Heart of the SW Growth Hub’s website for information, webinars and business guides.


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