Latest News | September 2021


Introduction David Ralph, HotSW LEP CEO

David Ralph

Welcome to our September newsletter. With the main summer holiday season behind us, there is very much a return to work feel and, for some, a return to the workplace.

Working across the HotSW region, we have set out a list of asks to go into the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, which it has been confirmed will take place on October 27th. We sent our asks to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, earlier this month – you can read our letter to him here. We believe our asks demonstrate clear priorities and specifically how our area can support the Government’s Levelling Up and carbon net-zero priorities set out in their Plan for Growth. As the Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, said recently: “I think the South West, of all the areas in the UK, is really at the forefront of the fight against climate change and also the green industrial revolution.”

We are also still working and coordinating efforts across business organisations and other partners to lobby the Government to recognise and champion the wider region. An open letter was sent earlier this month to the UK Prime Minister on behalf of the business community of the Great South West, comprising Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset. The letter asked for support to unlock the region’s huge potential, as set out in the Great South West partnership’s ‘Securing our Future’ prospectus and to recognise it as the ‘UK’s Natural Powerhouse’. As of yet, there has been no official response from the PM’s office.

In the last few weeks – and forming part of our delivery of the HotSW Blueprint for Clean Growth – our area saw England’s first hybrid-electric commuter flight take place from Exeter to Newquay, as part of our £5m Project 2ZERO to help deliver future sustainable aviation. We’ve also had the launch of the Ocean Futures prospectus, which sets out our ambition for the region’s future blue economy and the potential to become a global leader in ocean technology innovation. You can read more about both of these amazing programmes below.

Moreover, we are continuing to increase our support to businesses through our Growth Hub, including with the launch of a new Greening Business advice service in October to help businesses transition to low carbon. We are also delivering a second round of Train4Tomorrow technical and digital bootcamps, to upskill and retrain around 800 more people so that they might secure higher quality jobs and address some of the skills gaps we have.

Alongside all this, the HotSW LEP continues to focus its efforts on the route map to recovery from the pandemic, working with partners across the area to support our businesses and communities. Our ‘Build Back Better’ plan published earlier this year sets out key transformational opportunities which, when delivered, will assist our economy to recover in a stronger and more resilient way, underpinned by our principles of cleaner and inclusive growth.

Next month, the LEP will hold its AGM, which you can register to watch online here. We will also be making some exciting further announcements as part of our Clean Growth campaign, ahead of COP26, so do look out for those.

David Ralph
Chief Executive

City College Plymouth opens new futuristic augmented reality welding suite

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

In a huge step towards its vision to become a digital-first learning centre of choice, City College Plymouth has opened a state-of-the-art Augmented Reality Welding Suite. The new suite utilises innovative augmented reality (AR) software and closely aligns with the College’s goals to provide a re-imagined way of learning through the use of technology.

Creating a simulation in the real world environment around them, students will be able to practise their welding and construction skills in a seamless, efficient, and cost-effective manner. The technology also supports the College’s aims of reducing its carbon footprint and contributing to the city’s green agenda.

The College was awarded £350,000 from the HotSW LEP’s Getting Building Fund, created to support projects that would stimulate jobs and support the area’s economic recovery.


East Quay in Watchet opens for business

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

The £7.3m East Quay complex near Watchet harbour officially opened its doors last week. The new complex comprises two contemporary art galleries, 11 artists’ studios, paper mill, geology workshop, print studio, education space, restaurant and five self-catering holiday pods. It has been developed by Onion Collective CIC, a Watchet grown, female-led, not-for-profit social enterprise.

The development has been funded by the Coastal Communities Fund, Arts Council England through the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund, the HotSW LEP’s Getting Building Fund, Magnox Socio-economic Fund and the NDA, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the HPC Community Fund.

The building is intended to support economic and cultural regeneration in the area as well as act as a place for people to gather, imagine, discuss and take part in activities that explore what a better, more connected future might look like. East Quay will also run year-round events, offering music, theatre performances, art workshops, courses and film nights.


HotSW LEP's virtual AGM: Register your place and submit questions now

Our AGM will take place on October 22 from 12pm to 12:45pm and will include a summary of the LEP’s projects and achievements over the last year.

The meeting is open to all members of the public. To register for your free place for the LEP’s AGM webinar, please enter your details and submit them via the booking form here. A small number of attendees can be accommodated at the AGM, which will be held at the Iddesleigh Gallery at Exeter Race Course, Kennford, Exeter EX6 7XS. It will also be recorded for those who are unable to join the webinar live.

Questions can also be submitted in advance by October 15 by emailing

SW Innovation Expo bringing together tech entrepreneurs, businesses & investors

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

South West Innovation Expo will be bringing hundreds of tech innovators, entrepreneurs, business leaders and investors together in a showcase event taking place at Sandy Park in Exeter on October 14th.

There will also be a series of themed discussions and workshops throughout the day, with industry leaders sharing their knowledge and presenting practical case studies of how businesses have adopted new technology in their organisations.

The Leadership & Management discussion, sponsored by the HotSW LEP, will look at the latest academic research and practitioner examples to explore how SME’s, innovators and entrepreneurs can utilise their networks and collaborations to support the innovation and growth within their organisations.

Visit the Expo website for more information and to purchase a ticket.


Could you contribute to SW supply chain research?

The NFU, Exeter University, Somerset and Devon County Councils, and HotSW LEP are embarking on a new piece of research to map food production and processing capability, and the procurement needs of the public sector across the south west.

The research will be centred around 1-hour interviews with key stakeholders across procurement, production, and processing.

For anyone working in the food production or supply chain sector who would like to take part in this research, please contact


Consortium submits plan to confirm SW’s status as global leader in ocean tech innovation

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

The HotSW LEP has joined a consortium of industry, research and local government bodies to launch the newly published Ocean Futures prospectus.

The programme creates a blueprint for the region’s future blue economy and identifies the South West’s key strengths in fields including marine autonomy, digital innovation and the development of clean maritime technologies.

The consortium has submitted a plan to Government that would confirm the South West’s position at the global forefront of ocean technology research and innovation.


Ampaire brings first hybrid electric flight to HotSW

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

Ampaire, a pioneer in hybrid electric aircraft technology, launched the first demonstration flights between Exeter Airport and Cornwall Airport Newquay last month, to advance the use of sustainable aviation, driving down costs and emissions on short regional routes.

The demonstration flights were flown by its Electric EEL technology aircraft. The EEL, a modified US-built six-seat Cessna 337 Skymaster, features a battery-powered electric motor at the front and conventional combustion engine at the rear, enabling a reduction in emissions and operating costs by as much as 30%.

The flights are part of a UK-based consortium created to explore regional electric aviation transport solutions. The team, which includes Ampaire, Exeter Airport, Rolls-Royce Electrical, University of Nottingham, Loganair Ltd, Cornwall Airport Ltd, the HotSW LEP and UK Power Networks Services, received £2.4m from UKRI’s Future Flight Challenge earlier this year towards its £5m 2ZERO programme.