Read the latest round-up from David Ralph, HotSW LEP CEO
In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis we’ve re-purposed most of our current activity to helping business and individuals mitigate revenue and job losses by working with our partners on economic resilience measures.
As you will know, we’re sending out regular COVID-19 Business Resilience newsletters about the range of business support packages available through the Growth Hub, as well as updates on our work with Government to address the particular needs of our area. The latest is available resilience newsletter is here and the latest Growth Hub newsletter is here.
With Digital Skills being more crucial than ever right now, we’re also issuing frequent updates on our Digital Skills Partnership progress, with the latest available here.
Today’s newsletter is part of our regular bulletins on LEP progress and forthcoming projects.
Our Growth Deal programme continues to progress well, however due to supply shortages and the rules on social distancing, many of the construction projects have been delayed or halted.
We have yet to assess how long these will be delayed for, depending on when schemes can safely start again. Those schemes still underway include iAero, Somerset Energy Innovation Centre Phase 3, North Devon Enterprise Centre, Claylands, Junction 25 M5, A382, Somerset Flood Action Plan, and Gravity, all operating under safety measures on social distancing.
Inevitably many funded projects are going to be affected by delays, so the EU Commission has produced new guidance on funding regulations and delivery timescales, more details are in the EU update below.
We will continue to follow the economic impacts of the lockdown closely and report on these and our mitigation measures regularly to you.
So I take this opportunity to ask you, our stakeholders, to share with your networks the Growth Hub service which offers real added value to interpret the complex range of guidance and support for business, and also to highlight the new Virtual Careers Fair for those seeking employment.
Stay safe and resilient everyone, David Ralph.
Work underway on A382 upgrade
The first phase of the £13 million upgrading of the A382 at Newton Abbot started on site in March.
Work is currently underway on earthwork, vegetation clearance and utility service diversion as part of the improvements to the link from Newton Abbot to the A38 at Drumbridges roundabout.
The project involves realigning and widening the route between Forches Cross and Whitehill Cross, and a new roundabout will be developed at Ringslade Road.
The upgraded road will improve safety and provide additional capacity to relieve pressure on existing roads, as well as unlocking economic growth with developments to the west of Newton Abbot by providing the main access to a proposed employment site and around 2,300 homes planned for the area. A new pedestrian and cycle path will also encourage sustainable travel to and from the town.Read more
Steel signing marks a milestone at iAero
The HotSW aerospace industry is set in steel after a milestone was reached in construction of the cutting-edge aerospace innovation centre in Yeovil.
Partners in the iAero Centre initiative visited the construction site and signed a steel column at a special ceremony on 5 March as work on the construction of the Centre progresses on target.
Somerset County Council is working with the aerospace industry, including Leonardo Helicopters in Yeovil and wider local partners on the flagship iAero Centre to cement Somerset’s place at the heart of this important business sector. The LEP has granted £3.83m from the Growth Deal fund to the iAero project, which will bring economic benefits to the whole of the Heart of the South West area.
The iAero Centre will encourage innovation, collaboration and growth in the aerospace sector and supply chain, ensuring it remains competitive in a fast-changing world.Read more
Free Cyber Security and Data Management Training launched in HotSW
BCP Council is offering FREE e-learning Cyber Security and Data Management Training to SMEs in the whole of the South of England. The national project Cyber Well which is the result of a successful bid from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is all about how we can help small businesses become safer, without taking too much of your time, but remaining useful to your business, saving you money and giving you confidence in your cyber security processes. There is also free specialist cyber consultancy for 25 businesses that successfully complete the course.
With unusual working conditions and businesses working from home, there are, sadly, cyber criminals out there trying to take advantage of the current crisis. Recent figures released by the UK National Fraud & Cyber Security Centre have reported that Coronavirus-related fraud reports increased by 400% in March.
To sign up to this exciting project and watch a short recruitment video please visit: www.cyberwell.co.uk. You will be an important contributor to a national project which not only helps you stay safe, but helps all businesses in the SOUTH become Cyber Well. Thank you.
Maritime UK South West Update from Sheldon Ryan, MUKSW Coordinator
This quarter we officially joined Maritime UK and are making good use of this affiliation by forging stronger links into Government, other clusters and national programmes, for example in working with government on the National COVID Business Continuity Taskforce, which has enabled us to put South West business requirement at the heart of the COVID response in addition to working with regional partners.
We also continue to be very active in pursuing our shared mission of lobbying, promoting and developing our ocean economy here in the south west, and as part of this work we recently launched the South West Aquaculture Network; submitted a joint bid to promote our autonomy cluster; and are very excited to begin the supply chain engagement for the recently announced largest floating offshore wind investment in the world off the north coast of Cornwall.
It was great to see so many businesses at our Maritime UK South West Business Forum event at The Met Office when we relaunched our new brand (changed from South Coast Marine Cluster). We look forward to launching our new website in May; and although we are disappointed to postpone many of our planned events; we are working on rescheduling and on creating digital means of enabling collaboration, access to support and networking for the sector.
To find out more see the MUKSW Newsletter here
Federation of Small Businesses Survey
The FSB has launched a survey to collate feedback from the small business community on how they are finding the current coronavirus support packages and any gaps in support. This is open to both members and non-members.
Issues are being fed back regularly to Government and the FSB is keen to gather large volumes of data to substantiate lobbying. Normally only members are surveyed, but to have as broad a reach as possible all businesses are invited to participate.
The link to the survey is here and it runs until 9.30am on 30 April.
European Structural and Investment Fund Update
In recognition of the Covid-19 crisis, Departments managing the European Regional Development Fund, European Social Fund and European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development have all published guidance on flexibilities for projects.
A series of FAQs can be viewed through the following links, which are regularly updated: