May Newsletter

May 2019

The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership is a strong and dynamic partnership between the private sector, local authorities, universities and further education across Devon, Plymouth, Somerset, and Torbay with the purpose of leading and influence economic growth, job creation and prosperity across the Heart of the South West.

About the Newsletter
Produced monthly, this newsletter aims to keep people informed of current news and activity.


Introduction David Ralph HotSW LEP CEO

We’re on track in developing our Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) to align our local economic policy with national funding opportunities in time for the autumn budget.

We’re engaging with Government departments and workshops with stakeholders are being held to explore how the HotSW LIS can meet the Grand Challenges in the National Industrial Strategy – Artificial intelligence and Data; Ageing Society, Clean Growth and Future of Mobility. Clean Growth offers the highest value of potential for our LEP area, so is our primary strategic focus. We’ll submit our initial LIS proposal to Government following the LEP Board in July. The LIS Progress Statement and all of the evidence base is available here on our website.

With other good news from the area – the SW Institute of Technology bid led by Exeter University was successful – we’ll find out in the summer how much of the £170m allocated nationally will come to our area; South West Exeter has secured £53m Housing Infrastructure Funding to support housing growth in the wider Exeter area; a successful expression of interest has been submitted for an Environmental Technologies Accelerator; three bids from the HotSW area were successful in the latest round of the Coastal Communities Fund, with £1.5m for the Barnstaple Deep Water Pool; and £1.2m for the Burrows Centre nature interpretation facility in Torridge.

Finally, bucking the trend nationally, the HotSW area has secured 22 successful Foreign Direct Investments, the second highest in the South West. Our area’s appeal as a place to live, work and invest is backed up by the latest Happy City report, with Devon topping the bill. I think I can speak for all of our partners when I say that Somerset and the unitary areas of Plymouth and Torbay within the old county boundary of Devon can benefit from this accolade – these light-hearted but analytical reports can reflect underlying trends, and it is of no doubt that natural assets coupled with high-value economic potential offer an unrivalled quality of life.

Which brings us to the launch an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Great South West, co-chaired by Sir Gary Streeter, MP for South West Devon, and Ben Bradshaw, MP for Exeter on 30 April at Westminster.

MPs from HotSW, Dorset and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly came together with a common aim to raise the profile of the Great South West as a national and global economic entity to be reckoned with, rivalling the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine. We were encouraged by the enthusiasm and appetite in the room for all parties and partners to work together to leverage investment, confidence and strategic backing for the region, and the Minister for Local Growth Jake Berry gave an insightful speech about the unique opportunities of our area and the importance of working with business and democratic leaders with a common voice, with LEPs firmly in the driving seat. Since the launch, the group has gathered momentum and has set dates for further APPG meetings later this year.


MPs come together to launch the Great South West APPG in Parliament

On 30 April, MPs from across the Great South West region came together with local leaders and businesses to launch the Great South West All Party Parliamentary Group.

The new group will be chaired by Sir Gary Streeter MP and Rt Hon Ben Bradshaw MP and will bring together MPs, council’s and businesses from across the region to promote a regional identity to rival the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine.

Sir Gary Streeter, Member of Parliament for South West Devon spoke at the launch and highlighted the great potential for industry in the region including agriculture, defence, the marine and maritime industries and nuclear power. Yet barriers to prosperity remain due to issues including underfunded transport infrastructure and lack of productivity in rural areas.

The Minister for Local Growth, Jake Berry MP joined the launch and spoke on the importance for the Great South West to build a business case for investment in the region which could include Education, Transport and Devolution beyond major cities.

Sir Gary said “This is a really exciting time for our region, the South West has a vast away of opportunities which have yet to be realised in defence, aerospace, marine, rural, hi-tech and nuclear. By working together with one voice we will build a business case and press the case directly to HM Government to invest in the Great South West.”

Steve Hindley, Chair of the Great South West Partnership said: “It’s great to come together as partners to speak up for our region. Transport connectivity will be a key part of our business case, including pushing for funding the A303 improvements and creation of Sub-National Transport Bodies within our region. I look forward to being part of the discussions going forward.”

St Austell & Newquay MP Steve Double, who spoke at the launch event, said: “Rural areas make a huge contribution to the prosperity and wellbeing of the UK and by coming together around a shared agenda we can make the case for more investment. All six Cornish MPs attended the launch and we look forward to working with the group to drive our economy forwards. There are a number of great opportunities ahead for Cornwall including development of the space sector, lithium extraction and geo-thermal energy. By joining forces with our neighbours we can work together to realise Cornwall’s full economic potential.”

Jim Stewart, Chair of Dorset LEP said: “This was another excellent opportunity for us to show what Dorset and the South West has to offer UK plc. The South West economy is nationally significant and is larger than any combined authority – double the size of both Greater Manchester and West Midlands. Our alliance of regional business leaders, academic heads and local authorities is determined to win backing for our plans that will put the region on the economic map.”


Multi-million pound bid success for new Institute of Technology for the South West

HotSW LEP is a partner in a successful multi-million-pound collaborative bid to revolutionise digital, engineering and manufacturing education.

The Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed that the South West IoT will receive a share of £170 million, awarded to establish a network of Institutes of Technology across the country.

The Institutes will be unique collaborations between universities, further education colleges, and leading employers. They will specialise in delivering quality higher-level technical training and provide employers with the skilled workforce they need.

Of 35 original applications, an Institute of Technology for the South West region was one of 16 to be invited to the final stage of the competitive process last year.

It will have centres across the HotSW area and Cornwall, with state-of-the-art facilities proposed for Exeter, Truro, Plymouth, Barnstaple and Bridgwater.

These include a new Digital and Data Hub in Exeter, a new technology hub in Truro for engineering and digital teaching, and new builds and refurbished existing facilities in Barnstaple, Plymouth and Cannington.

The proposal draws on expertise from partner organisations including the University of Exeter; University of Plymouth, Bridgwater & Taunton College, City College Plymouth, Exeter College, Petroc and Truro & Penwith College. This bid is supported by Heart of the South West and the Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly LEPs.

A group of anchor employers including Babcock, the Met Office, Oxygen House and TK Lambada, will lead the direction and ensure focus on the latest industry skills.
Catering for up to 2,500 students, in apprenticeship and full-time courses from post-16 level to masters degree level, the Institute will help put the region at the forefront of digital and engineering education across the UK.


Inspire South West growth gathers pace

As part of the Growth Hub Service to provide business support for every stage of start-up and growth, HotSW LEP has appointed Inspire to pilot a scale up programme for fast growing SMEs.
Inspire is aimed at ambitious businesses keen to grow and expand and is designed to break down barriers to growth, share best practice and provide one-to-one bespoke support, advice and networking opportunities with like-minded companies.

The service includes access to the Goldman Sachs 10,000 small business programme which provides 100 hours of fully funded support to growing businesses.

Inspire has joined forces with Somerset Chamber of Commerce to deliver support for high-growth businesses across Somerset and will launch into the rest of the HotSW area later this year.

Rob Perks, Inspire’s CEO, said: “We are delighted to have been selected by the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership to pilot our scale up programme.”

Steve Hindley, CBE DL, Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership said: “I’m delighted to see the launch of this new scale-up service as part of our Heart of the South West Growth Hub, designed to help businesses start up, develop and grow.

“Raising productivity is a key aim of the LEP; and scaling up is one of the best ways to achieve production growth. I look forward to seeing some exciting businesses ventures benefitting from this initiative.”

Rob added: “There is so much information out there for SMEs now and our job is to make it easy for them to understand and provide them with the information and correct support their business needs.
“Being endorsed Scale-up Ambassadors by the Scale Up Institute gives assurance that the programme we have in place provides the right support and solutions to help scale-ups manage and sustain rapid growth.”

For more information on how Inspire can help your business, visit or telephone 01225 355553.



Station redevelopment continues on track as key contract signed

Exciting plans for the redevelopment of Taunton station have moved a step further as Great Western Railway and construction company John Sisk & Son finalised contracts for the multi-million-pound regeneration scheme, which is partly funded with a grant of £4.6m from the LEP’s Growth Deal.

Great Western Railway is working with Somerset West and Taunton Council and the Heart of South West Local Enterprise Partnership to deliver the scheme, designed to help support the town’s economic development plans.

Improvements for the station are planned to include a new multi-storey car park; a new ticket office and entrance and additional bike spaces. An improved bus and taxi interchange and easier access to the town centre and Firepool development will all help improve the customer experience for people visiting the town by train – a number that is expected to double over the next 10 years. Work is expected to begin this summer and be completed in spring 2020.

GWR Head of Commercial Development Clare Kingswood said: “Taunton station is a key gateway to the town and with the overall investment in the rail network including brand new Intercity Express Trains that have already increased capacity by over a quarter than the trains they have replaced – we are expecting passenger numbers to increase significantly over the next decade.

“We are pleased to be working with Somerset West and Taunton Council and the Heart of South West LEP to deliver the additional car park and bike spaces that Taunton has needed for some time, and it is great that we have finalised the contracts with John Sisk & Son and are able to move into the construction phase of the project.”

Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership Steve Hindley, CBE DL, said: “We are delighted that this major project to improve Taunton station is now getting under way, with a £4.6m contribution from our Local Growth Fund. This significant investment will not only transform the station environment and improve its accessibility, but also act as a catalyst for commercial and residential development in the area around the station.

“It’s part of the LEP’s wider strategic infrastructure programme to improve connectivity throughout the HotSW area of Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay.”



Calling all budding business owners and entrepreneurs!


The first ever Somerset Entrepreneur Bootcamp will offer anyone with an early stage innovative business or ingenious idea the opportunity to begin their journey on the road to success.

Somerset Entrepreneur Bootcamps are part of an exciting new initiative called The Somerset Catalyst Programme. This programme will focus on building the capacity in Somerset to construct, sustain and evolve an Entrepreneurship and Innovation Eco System.

The Somerset Catalyst Programme is supported by Somerset Enterprise Centres, Somerset Energy Innovation Centre, Yeovil Innovation Centre, South Somerset District Council, Somerset County Council, Leonardo and the Heart of South West Local Enterprise Partnership.

Having filled out a simple online form those with the strongest pitches will be invited to attend the Somerset Entrepreneur Bootcamp; a free, two-day event at the Yeovil Innovation Centre (YIC) on Monday 3 and Tuesday 4 June.

During these exciting, highly interactive sessions, successful applicants will work with experts who are well used to turning high potential business concepts into commercial successes on the world stage. It doesn’t matter if candidates have been in business or not; all applicants will receive coaching and practical tips on key aspects of growing a business, including:

  • Making a compelling business case, worthy of investment
  • Effective communications – presenting, pitching ideas and negotiating
  • Team building for growth and success
  • Creating value through supply chains, networks and open innovation

Moving forward, the selected entrepreneurs will receive a full range of support, pushing them to be their best.

For a chance to take part, all applicants need to do is complete a simple form which is available at:


New awards launched celebrating South West’s ‘best of tech’

Tech South West has launched new awards to celebrate and showcase the best of the region’s technology sector.The Tech South West Awards 2019 cover the whole Tech South West region of Bath, Bristol, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Plymouth, Somerset, Torbay and Wiltshire, recognising and celebrating talent, creativity, business success, education, leadership, diversity and more across the whole technology sector.

The ground-breaking event will comprise 23 award categories covering South West’s fastest growing sector, honouring the profusion of innovative businesses, individuals and organisations making up the region’s thriving technology scene. Categories range from Best Start-up, International Success and Tech Entrepreneur of the Year, to Sustainable Tech, Tech Education Initiative and Research Award.

To celebrate local successes from across the region, local tech cluster awards also feature, running in partnership with Digital Northern Devon, Digital Plymouth, Digital Taunton, Software Cornwall, Tech Exeter and TechSPARK. These area-specific accolades will reward companies, organisations, programmes and initiatives which have delivered a positive difference to the industry and seek to encourage and celebrate tech in their local communities and beyond.

Toby Parkins, Chair of Tech South West and founder of Cornwall-based software firm HeadForwards, said: “These awards will recognise the many successes across the South West’s technology scene, highlighting the incredible array of companies, initiatives and individuals helping drive innovation, collaboration, economic growth, jobs and future talent.

“The South West is a growing hub for digital and tech, and these awards will support our objective to showcase the region as an emerging, world-leading hub for technology and innovation.”

Representatives from Software Cornwall, TechSPARK, Digital Plymouth, Tech Exeter, Digital Taunton, Northern Devon Digital, BT, Cornwall College Group, Cosmic, HeadForwards, Maistro, Oneserve and Astley Media are on the judging panel.

The awards opened for entries on Wednesday May 8 at with the deadline 5pm Friday 21 June 2019. Judging takes place towards the end of June, with the shortlists announced in July, ahead of the awards ceremony in October.


Exeter College officially opens new Apprenticeship and Employment Hub

Exeter College has officially launched its new Queen Street Apprenticeship and Employment Hub, with by special guest, HotSW LEP CEO David Ralph.The move comes following five years of continued growth and expansion of its provision and its dedicated Apprenticeship team. During that period the college has seen the numbers of people starting apprenticeships double to more than a 1,000 per year.  The city-centre facility is available to both students and employers, which includes a walk-in clinic and learning space, to encourage more people to come in and talk about their career aspirations. Services for potential apprentices include CV making, interview advice and apprenticeship job search.

The Apprenticeship team has forged partnerships with more than 950 local businesses, who form the backbone of its offering. The new hub will enable the College to further bolster the first class support it offers employers, providing training needs analysis, levy health check, and recruitment advice; from copywriting for a vacancy and marketing the role, to matching students.

The rise in apprentice starts has no doubt been aided by the expansion of programmes on offer; with over 90 course options and the recent launch of advanced and higher-level management, HR, Digital, data analyst, project management and laboratory technician.