Call for Government Investment to Strengthen Advanced Engineering and Digital Innovation Industries in South West England and South East Wales

A consortium of major businesses, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and higher education institutions has found that the South West England and South East Wales region can lead the UK and compete with the world in the areas of advanced engineering and digital innovation, and has called for targeted government investment to drive innovation in these areas.

The UK government invited key organisations (including Airbus, the Met Office, Rolls Royce and Johnson Matthey), universities and LEPs in the region to collate the South West England and South East Wales Science and Innovation Audit (SWW-SIA).

The audit identified that the region is home to the largest aerospace sector in the UK and pioneering automotive, nuclear, marine and marine renewables and microelectronics industries.

South West England and South East Wales is also synonymous with digital innovation: home to the largest silicon design cluster outside of the USA; more climate expertise than any other area worldwide; global powerhouse microelectronics industry; a national exemplar for smart cities.

The consortium now calls on the UK government to make a series of strategic investments to better integrate the scientific and industrial strengths of the region. For Digital Innovation in the South West, the focus will centre on creating a network of Digital Innovation Hubs (DIH), starting with the new Institute for Environmental Risk and Innovation at the Global Environmental Futures Campus in Exeter and a Digital Innovation Hub in Bristol. These Hubs would reach into the SWW region via links to specific assets and further afield to integrate with UK assets.

Jon Siddall, Director of Innovation, South West Academic Health Science Network (SW AHSN), who was involved in audit steering group, said: “We are delighted to see the publication of the South West England and South East Wales Science and Innovation Audit. The Digital Innovation Hubs will bring together agendas from environmental, autonomous systems, digital health and smart cities because the underlying capabilities are highly complementary. We look forward to working with our members and partners to help realise the potential of the opportunities identified in the report.”

The SIA process has provided real impetus for cohesive working across the region, which offers great benefits to be realised by systematic and sustained investment by Government in partnership with the private sector.

The UK government has thanked the SWW-SIA consortium for their submission and is expected to make an announcement about its Industrial Strategy in the upcoming Autumn Statement.

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