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Government backs South West as world leader in Smart and Sustainable Aviation

The Heart of the South West LEP, West of England Combined Authority, and Department for International Trade have launched a Smart and Sustainable Aviation High Potential Opportunity for the South West.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) has recognised the South West of England as a High Potential Opportunity (HPO) for the development, demonstration, and adoption of new and emerging aviation technologies.

As a world leader in Smart and Sustainable Aviation, the South West presents an exceptional opportunity for investors to plug into a leading aviation ecosystem, built upon the region’s rich aerospace heritage. The publication of this HPO will highlight the South West as a global destination for aviation business and research, and will be promoted to DIT teams in British Embassies around the world.

The South West is home to a globally prominent aerospace cluster, which includes leading and pioneering companies such as Leonardo Helicopters, Airbus, GKN, Vertical Aerospace, Rolls Royce, Renishaw, the Defence, Science & Technology Laboratory, and Spaceport Cornwall along with world class universities, the West of England Aerospace Forum, and R&D Centres of Excellence including the National Composites Centre.

The HPO outlines that the South West ecosystem will support companies in creating the markets of the future, bringing to life sophisticated aviation and air mobility products, services and solutions, and enhancing the sustainability of future air transport system technologies. Potential investors are invited to play an instrumental role in the development, demonstration, and adoption of new and emerging aviation and advanced air mobility markets, taking full advantage of electrification, hydrogen, autonomy and disruptive technologies.

Stuart Hatch, Head of Aerospace & Space at the Department for International Trade said: “The decarbonisation of the Aerospace sector offers companies an exciting opportunity to design, develop and manufacture the air mobility solutions of the future. With its vibrant cluster of innovative SMEs, operating alongside established aerospace firms like Airbus, Leonardo and GKN, the South West offers an unparalleled environment for overseas companies to grow their business in the UK.”

Karl Tucker, Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, said: “The South West Aerospace cluster is of international importance, and it is fantastic to see this recognised and backed by the Government. It is vital that companies grasp the opportunity the region presents for the future of aviation, as we support them in developing smarter, more sustainable air transport. This is also a brilliant opportunity to benefit the wider South West and UK industry and economy, boosting job creation and accelerating the UK’s advantage in the sector.”

Richard Bonner, Chair of the West of England LEP, said: “Innovation from our region plays a key role in the global shift to a zero-carbon economy, and we have ambitious goals to be net zero by 2030. We are leading the way towards a greener economy with world-class centre of excellences such as the GKN Global Technology Centre and Airbus launch of a Zero Emission Development Centre for hydrogen technologies at Filton. A unique opportunity exists for investors to join this future-oriented community – creating the markets of the future, bringing to life the most sophisticated aviation and air mobility products, services and solutions, and enhancing the sustainability of the future air transport system technologies of the future.”

The South West Aerospace cluster partners will be showcasing the region’s aviation opportunities at Farnborough International Airshow, 18th – 22nd July, at Stand 1218, Hall 1, where they will be pleased to meet with companies to discuss the South West’s Future Aviation Test Environment and demonstration capabilities.

The HPO summary is available here.


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      David Ralph

      Chief Executive

      David Ralph started as Chief Executive of Heart of South West LEP at the beginning of June 2018. Previously, he had spent 5 years as CEO of the Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire (D2N2) LEP from 2013 where he oversaw the development of the D2N2 Strategic Economic Plan and sector strategies, 3 Growth Deals with HM Government to deliver a £1billion capital investment programme, securing and implementing £200m ESIF programme, the Derby and Nottingham Enterprise Zone, the D2N2 Skills Deal and Time for Innovation programme, community fund and led the executive team to develop the HS2 East Midlands hub. He was also closely involved in the proposed North Midlands Devolution Deal and one of the key architects in establishing the Midlands Engine, chairing the officer steering group. Whilst in this role David was a NED of the Nottingham Enterprise Zone, and Marketing NG, the Outer Estates Foundation and a Governor of Nottingham College and on the advisory Board of Nottingham Business School.

      Before the East Midlands, David was CEO of the Have Gateway Partnership working closely with local stakeholders including the ports of Felixstowe, Harwich and Ipswich and BT Adadastral Park across Suffolk and Essex and prior to that was Chief Exec of the Barton Hill New Deal for Communities programme in Bristol and the Nelm Development Trust in Norwich.

      David is a keen sailor, walker and trail runner.