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WE ARE A PARTNERSHIP FOR GROWTH

September 2015

NEWS IN BRIEF

West of England proposes ambitious devolution deal worth £2bn to economy
The leaders of the West of England are calling on the Government to back a devolution bid that could generate an extra £2bn per annum for the economy whilst improving lives. In a submission to Her Majesty’s Treasury on 4 September, the West of England proposed a £1bn investment which could triple the level of spending on major projects such as transport, flood defence and housing over the next 10 years. The package also proposes greater local control over post-16 training and skills.

Colin Skellett, Chair, WofE LEP said “This is a major step forwards and builds on the excellent joint working between the four Unitary Authorities and business.  We have clearly demonstrated our ability to manage devolved funding and responsibilities through our City Deal”. more

£2bn government guarantee for Hinkley Point C agreed
Whilst on a 5 day tour of China, Chancellor George Osborne has announced that the UK will guarantee a £2bn deal under which China will invest in Hinkley Point. The deal will pave the way for a final investment decision by EDF energy who could not afford the estimated £24.5bn cost of the plant on its own and had been looking for investment, particularly in China. The station is expected to produce enough energy to supply 7% of the country’s needs, powering about six million homes. more

Business back bid to boost electric vehicle use across West of England
Local business, including Business West, Bristol Airport and the University of the West of England, are backing a multi-million pound bid to government to support a dramatic increase in the use of green transport throughout the West of England.  The area’s four local authorities are preparing to bid for up to £11m to secure investment from the Office of Low Emission Vehicles which would be used to provide better and more sustainable ways for people to travel across the area. more

 

REGIONAL ROUND UP

Designs for Bath’s first river bridge for a century to be revealed
Six designs for the first new bridge across the River Avon in Bath for more than 100 years are to  be unveiled as part of an international design competition.  The 65m long Bath Quays cycle and footbridge forms a key part of the £1bn Riverside Enterprise Area. The 98 hectare site could create 9,000 jobs and put Bath on the global stage for the creative and digital industries. View designs here

Arena bridge completion paves way for work to start
The £11m bridge which links Arena Island to Cattle Market Road is now completed and will be the main route for visitors to the Bristol Arena which is set to open in 2017. Information relating to proposals for the Arena are now available to the public as part of the public consultation period which runs until 13th October.  Residents and businesses are invited to give their views on the emerging plans and transport proposals. more

West of England showcased at world’s largest commercial aviation event
Bristol Airport is joining forces with Destination Bristol for the third year to promote the West of England to airlines from across the globe.  The World Route Development Forum gives airports and tourism organisations a chance to meet with more than 250 airlines to discuss route opportunities. 

Since attending last year the airport has secured services to 17 new destinations, contributing towards record passenger numbers which topped 750,000 during August, the first time during a single calendar month, and up 6% from the 2014 total. more 

Funding secured for UK’s oldest theatre
Bristol’s Old Vic theatre, the oldest continually operating theatre in the UK, has secured an initial £220,500 development grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to support a redevelopment project marking its 250th anniversary.  The restoration will include the conservation of the original 18th century theatre façade. more

Record numbers choose sustainable transport in Big Commuting Challenge
Around 4,500 people replaced 23, 296 car journeys in the West of England by trying new ways of travelling as part of the Big Commuting Challenge which took place over the summer.  The initiative organised by the Travelwest partnership with the four WofE authorities saved more than 83,000kg of C02 emissions and burned nearly 17m calories – the equivalent of around 67,300 donuts. more

The Roman Baths named as UK’s most popular paid for attraction
The Roman Bath’s have been named at the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice awards as the UK’s most popular paid for attraction in 2015 and were also the only visitor attraction outside of London to be in the top 5 for best museum. 

The baths attract one million visitors a year and recently hosted Australia at the Rugby World Cup welcome ceremony. more

Sustainability a priority for West of England firms
Sustainability is firmly on the agenda for 80% of West of England boardrooms with nearly a third considering it one of their business’s top three priorities, according to a survey undertaken by Moon consulting and Bristol Business News to coincide with Bristol’s role as European Green Capital. 

Just 5% are not engaged in sustainability activities and 43% see it as part of their corporate social responsibility policy. more

 

BUSINESS

Sharp increase in exports recorded in the South West
Businesses in the South West are helping to buck the national trend for exporting, with the value of overseas sales for the region rising by 5.6% to £14.5bn in the year to the end of June whist national figures decreased.  The number of firms exporting from the region also increased over the year. 

The strong performance is welcomed by Business West which has launched its own #GetExporting campaign to get 2,020 businesses exporting more by 2020. more

First time exporters are being invited by UKTI South West to attend a short overseas business trip to Poland, the eighth largest and fastest growing economy in Europe, to help understand how to export from the front line and build connections. The trip will take place from 6 – 8 October. more

UWE launches £4m innovation4Growth fund
SME’s in the South West are being encouraged to apply to a £4m research and development fund aimed at developing new products and services whilst creating jobs. 

The UWE Innovation 4Growth (I4G) programme offers grants of between £25K and £150K to cover up to 35% of the projects total cost.  Last year 40 businesses across the West of England received I4G grants, creating 183 jobs. more

 

Business in Brief

A space saving automated parking tower for bicycles developed and manufactured in Germany is being launched in the UK by Bath based Cardok.  The firm has secured the UK distributorship for the multi storey Radhaus cycle garage, a tower that can park up to 120 bikes securely. more

Kelly Brothers, a South Glos road marking company, have acquired a 2.5 acre site to construct a purpose built headquarter and depot in Yate enabling it to consolidate its two existing Yate based sites whilst allowing for further expansion. more

Three local innovative tech start-ups will be showcasing their businesses at St James’s Palace in London as part of Pitch@Palace, an initiative founded by HJRH The Duke of York, who visited Bristol to meet with firms taking part in the challenge. more

Outsourcing business Leidos has signed up to new offices in Emersons Green following its recent agreement to provide logistic services to the Ministry of Defence - a further boost to the Enterprise Area. more

Wizz Air has firmed up its commitment to buy 110 Airbus aircraft, the largest single order for the A321neo model manufactured by Airbus in Filton. more

HairEducator, based in Weston-super-Mare, is set to grow by at least 250% next year, following start up help from the North Somerset Enterprise Agency (NSEA).  A husband and wife team set up the business offering bespoke training courses for the hair industry, after both being made redundant in the same week. more

 

SKILLS

“Your Future” initiative breaks down barriers between business and young people
Business West and the Skills Funding Agency are supporting the British Chambers of Commerce “Your Future” programme, running from the end of September to March, which will put thousands of young people across the country directly in touch with local businesses to improve the quality of careers advice they receive.

Phil Smith, Managing Director of Business West said “We need to strengthen the link between business and education to tackle the skills shortages facing local firms and this is a massive step forward”. more

Become a West  of England Apprenticemaker
“Apprenticemakers” is a national portal that provides business to business support for apprentice employers. There are currently only 12 registered employers in the West of England - the LEP Skills team would like to see this number increase to 100 by the end of the year and are encouraging organisations to sign up. Join now

Once registered, members will have the opportunity to join the WofE Apprenticeship Business Advice Group which is developing a local strategy to encourage more employers to appoint apprentices as part of their existing growth plans. Contact Becca Thurston for more information.

New vision and strategy for University of Bristol as Hugh Brady starts his term as President
Professor Hugh Brady has become the new Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bristol taking over from Professor Sir Eric Thomas who retired last month.

Prof Brady said “It is a huge privilege to join this great institution, and I look forward to working with staff, students, alumni, collaborators and friends to help the organisation take its next steps forward”. more

Calling the Shots – looking for the best creative talent across the South West
Random Acts, a partnership between Arts Council England and Channel 4, has developed a new initiative named “Calling the Shots”, which provides young people in the South West with the opportunities to pair up with an industry professional to make a short film about their creative project. Round 2 applications close on 28th Sept. more

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