Region’s leaders focused on how the South West can deliver for the UK 

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How the South West can lead and deliver for the UK economy was the key focus for the region’s senior leaders as they met in Somerset.

The Great South West Partnership Board includes leaders of industry, local authorities and universities with the remit to power growth across the region. They met at the new Firepool Digital Innovation Centre in Taunton on Thursday (Feb 8), before travelling to Gravity, the proposed location for the UK’s first gigafactory for electric vehicle batteries, a major national infrastructure project which could create thousands of jobs. 

The Board then went to the National College for Nuclear at Bridgwater & Taunton College, the UK’s state-of-the-art nuclear training facility, to meet with Government officials and discuss key national issues.

Karl Tucker, Chair of the Great South West, said: “Clean energy, food and defence are critical areas for the Government and a major focus for the Great South West. Our industry leaders, universities and councils are a powerful alliance, united on championing the vital role we play in powering the UK through clean energy, food and defence security, and setting out the investable opportunities we have across the region.”

The session included a focus on the region’s strengths in energy and high value manufacturing, alongside insight into how college groups and universities respond to major job development, such as the proposed gigafactory at Gravity, with insight from Bridgwater & Taunton College and its work with EDF Energy and the Hinkley Point C development. 

The Great South West is the powerhouse brand for Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset and the Isles of Scilly.

Neil Skelland, Business Development Director at Atlas Elektronik UK and Great South West Board Member, said: “We saw what the Great South West can do at scale today through investment in people, infrastructure and reliable, clean energy; all critical to UK prosperity. We have many such opportunities in the South West, and our challenge is to convene and facilitate the collaborations required to convert them at pace and scale.”

Other Board Members taking part included Prof Judith Petts and Prof Emma Hunt, Vice Chancellors at the University of Plymouth and University of Falmouth, Clive Higgins, Chief Executive at Leonardo UK, Adrian Bratt, External Affairs Director at Princess Yachts, Stuart Brocklehurst, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Exeter, and the Leaders of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset LEP, Somerset and Torbay Councils – Linda Taylor, John Hart, Cecilia Bufton, Bill Revans and David Thomas.

Chair Karl Tucker added: “Across the partnership, we are focused on key discussions with the Government and our MPs, and continuing to set out a clear case for investment and national partnerships, as we demonstrate just why the region is so critical to the UK’s security and prosperity.” 

Great South West is developing a range of key events and activity through 2024, including economic and sector insight reports, regional roadshows, Westminster events and a major national conference, ‘Delivering for the UK’ at Sandy Park, Exeter, in September. A delegation will also be working at the UK’s main investment show, UKREiiF, in Leeds in May, to set out the array of opportunities across the region.

The Board is dedicated to driving investment and promoting the region’s world-class industries, businesses, and workforce on a national scale.