The South West has much to contribute to UK plc. A dynamic and progressive South West economy will generate the critical success factors needed for a successful UK economy.
We set the direction for this work in the South West Growth Charter that was published in November 2016 and the associated #backthesouthwest media campaign. This highlighted the importance for prosperity of:
- Digital, energy and transport connectivity. In particular we have started to make some progress on digital connectivity in recent years and this represents a hugely significant opportunity for transforming our prosperity and enabling all parts of our economy to benefit. We have ambitious plans to have in the South West the first location in the UK, even globally, to deploy a live 5G network; we estimate the general roll out of 5G would be worth an estimated £7bn to the UK economy. Furthermore, the Greater Connected Strategy agreed by all SW LEPs makes a compelling case for addressing our regional connectivity and has been the foundation for our work since then; for example by the Peninsula Rail Task Force’s 20-year Action Plan recently submitted to Govt and Highways England programme of improvement proposed for the A303/358/30 corridor. Additionally a robust energy grid enables employment sites to be developed and for our region to reach its potential in renewables
- World class skills for employment. The strong headlines on our employment and educational attainment hide significant weaknesses in social mobility and cold spots for HE progression. We are focusing on a range of measures to strengthen routes into employment, enable individuals to thrive and continually develop their skills and so have rewarding careers, and enable businesses to grow by having the talent they need.
Other exciting opportunities are:
- A burgeoning nuclear cluster exists along the spine of the south west. As well as multi-billion defence-related and innovation opportunities, we are leading the UK in development of next-generation nuclear power and have identified £50 billion of opportunities for business within 75 miles of our area.
- Pioneering new expertise across a wide range of digital / data areas; for example the proposed Institute for Environmental Risk, jointly developed by the University of Exeter and the Met Office, which is to be located on the Exeter Science Park. Working together with the reinsurance industry, we can see the potential for annual returns to the UK approaching £400m and supporting growth in the UK’s international reinsurance sector post Brexit.
- A nationally significant Agri and Fishing industry that contribute twice as much to the economy (£1.6 billion) and twice as many jobs as the average English region and have a growing network of over 200 innovative AgriTech companies, world-leading academics and R&D institutions, and Food Enterprise Zones gearing up to also meet the post Brexit world.
- An incredibly diverse aerospace offer across the region with Cornwall Airport Newquay and Goonhilly Earth Station playing a critical role in developing England’s first Spaceport, complimenting and adding value to the already globally prestigious SW aerospace cluster and iAero, own unique collaborative partnership, that is driving up the productivity and competitiveness of the sector.
- The UK’s leading Marine Cluster, extending from Cornwall to the Solent; with 32 world-renowned research institutions, including the two largest in the UK; the largest concentration of harbours and ports including, the three largest fishing ports in England, and the largest Naval Dockyard in Europe; 20% of the UK marine, maritime and defence jobs including Babcock, the RNLI and two of the largest luxury yacht manufacturers globally.