Industrial Strategy unveiled to harness potential of West of England’s innovation and creativity

July 22, 2019

The first-ever industrial blueprint for the West of England has been launched with the aim of building on the area’s unique creativity, collaboration and ingenuity to secure sustainable growth.

Among ideas suggested in the strategy are connecting researchers, businesses and residents through a Global Centre of Innovation Excellence to focus the area’s innovative strengths on globally and nationally significant challenges.

It also says the area could set up a West of England Network of Living Labs to develop, test and prepare for market new products and services.

The strategy sets out how the area will support the government’s national Industrial Strategy, which aims to raise productivity levels and create high-quality, well-paid jobs across the UK.

But it also recognises that the West of England has its own challenges that need to be addressed to realise its full potential, including improving small business productivity, skilling-up the workforce and ensuring clean, inclusive growth.

This includes looking at harnessing the area’s burgeoning tech and creative sectors to develop a ‘smart’ region more in tune with the needs of its residents – one that uses its digital expertise to improve connectivity, and that can provide homes that house the ageing population for longer while being built more cheaply, quickly and more energy efficiently.

It also aims to ensure people have the skills that businesses need to support the region’s ambitions, while also making sure all residents have access to opportunities.

It sets out how the area will bring its world-leading sectors together to promote collaboration and address national and international challenges.

The Local Industrial Strategy has been developed by the West of England Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), working with regional businesses and organisations, as well as central government.

It was welcomed by the South West CBI, whose regional director Deborah Fraser said: “This plans mean jobs, investment and growth not just for Bristol and Bath but every part of the West of England.

“We have some of the world’s most-competitive and innovative companies based here, many of which are driving forward the industries of tomorrow and this industrial strategy layouts a road-map to support future growth.”

The strategy highlights some of the pioneering work already underway in the area and looks at how this can be developed in the future.

It also seeks to provide businesses with the space, networks and skills they need to boost productivity, grow and thrive by:

  • Encouraging uptake of modern technology, management and leadership practices to lift employee wellbeing, productivity and exports.
  • Including more regional providers in businesses’ supply chains and widening access to public procurement for small businesses.
  • Supporting and incentivising companies towards low carbon business models.

West of England Metro Mayor Tim Bowles said: “From the days of Brunel, through to the latest developments in robotics and virtual reality, the West of England has been at the cutting edge of technology.

“Across our towns and cities, there is an independence of spirit and pride in the diversity, creativity and ingenuity of communities. Our Local Industrial Strategy sets out how we will work together to build on those strengths.

“As the world changes around us, we need this plan to make sure we stay ahead of the curve, creating a stronger economy and a better place to live and work for all.” 

Universities, science, research and innovation minister Chris Skidmore added: “From robots to animation through to aerospace, the West of England has a strong, diverse and increasingly green economy.

“This local Industrial Strategy ensures the innovation, skills and creativity of every place in the West of England are harnessed, benefiting everyone working and living in the area.”

Pictured: Metro Mayor Tim Bowles and universities, science, research and innovation minister Chris Skidmore, centre, at the launch of the Industrial Strategy flanked by local authority leaders and LEP board members

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