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January 2017

The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership is a strong and dynamic partnership between the private sector, local authorities, universities and further education across Devon, Plymouth, Somerset, and Torbay with the purpose of leading and influence economic growth, job creation and prosperity across the Heart of the South West.

About the Newsletter
Produced monthly, this newsletter aims to keep people informed of current news and activity.

Chris Garcia, Chief Executive 

This year sees the LEP partnership gathering momentum to make a real difference to the physical infrastructure of the area and the economy.

More of our Growth Deal projects are mobilised this year, with some projects from the first round of the Growth Deal already completed. We gave a round-up of the latest progress on site in the December edition of the newsletter, but as it was issued between Christmas and New Year, many of you may have missed it, so we’ve published the Growth Deal latest as a news story on our website here.

Our Growth Deals with Government, along with our Growing Places Fund and the private and public sector match brings our delivery programme to nearly half a billion pounds. We’re imminently expecting an announcement about the latest round of Growth Deal funding so this figure will soon get a boost of even more investment.

To add to this, the Heart of the South West continues to pursue its Devolution deal and the local authority led Devolution partnership has just launched the first phase of its productivity plan, following the launch of the Government’s consultation “Building our Industrial Strategy” last week. The LEP is working closely with local authorities on this and the aim is to align the local and national strategies so that we can demonstrate to Government the strong role the Heart of the South West will play in the UK’s Industrial Strategy. This will help our area get the funding it needs, and to make sure the powers that be are focused on our strengths and opportunities when it comes to allocating investment.

Talking of investment, there’s a new round of funding available from the EU for rural businesses, and we’ve had assurance that all allocated EU funding is safe, regardless of the Brexit negotiations. There are also some ERDF calls still open in this area; and all the details are available as ever on our website. I would urge potential applicants to take up these EU funding opportunities while they are still available, and on this subject, I would also urge you to take part in our research on the impact of leaving the EU as part of the Brexit Resilience and Opportunities Group. (There’s details of how to get in touch below.)

It’s good to see developments taking place across our multi-site Enterprise Zones, with work starting on site at Plymouth’s Oceansgate; and Huntspill and East Devon winning Government funding to support the costs of bringing the sites into operation.

Yesterday our chair, Steve Hindley, met our appointed Minister who is the government champion for our LEP, Jesse Norman. He visited Hinkley to find out more about the how the south west nuclear cluster can generate £50 billion in civil and defence nuclear projects over the next decade, making a significant contribution to meeting the UK’s productivity gap.

With all that’s going on this year we need to keep up our high standards, and after 6 years of extremely valuable work put in by our Board members, some of them come to the end of their tenure in 2017. Therefore we’re recruiting for new private sector members to take their place at the helm of the LEP and bring strategic leadership and business expertise to continue the momentum of our success.

I look forward to continuing to work with our existing and new partners throughout 2017 which will no doubt prove to be a very eventful year.


Business and Social Economy Leaders – Do you have the skills and vision to help shape the economic prosperity of our area?

The LEP is seeking up to seven new private sector Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) to take up the positions which will become vacant this year when a number of the existing NEDs come to the end of their terms, following six years of their valuable contribution of expertise.

Candidates with a strong business background at a senior level, with the skills and vision to help shape the economic prosperity of our area are required to make a positive contribution to the Board. Interested candidates are invited to apply before 14 February, more information including a candidate pack is available here.

New EU funding available for Rural and Tourism businesses in the Heart of the South West

£12.4 million of European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) funding is now available to support projects that increase rural jobs, growth and productivity in the Heart of the South West. 

Rural businesses and organisations can now apply to the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) for grants through the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) Growth Programme.

Funding is split across three specific strands:

£2,784,740 for ‘Rural Business Development Grants’ - Farm businesses diversifying into non-agricultural activity and new or existing micro and small businesses (including social enterprises) in rural areas can apply for capital grants between £35,000 and £170,000 to support business start-up or expansion.
£7,540,000 for ‘Food Processing Grants’ – New or existing food and drink processing businesses (including farm businesses diversifying into food and drink processing) can apply for capital grants from £35,000 to support business start-up or expansion. 
£2,088,555 for ‘Rural Tourism Infrastructure’ –Rural businesses, farmers, landowners, charities and public bodies can apply for capital grants from £35,000 for projects that improve the local rural tourism offer by delivering new or enhanced rural tourism assets and infrastructure.
There is a competitive and two-stage application process, comprising an expression of interest and a full application. Match-funding is also required. Further details of funding opportunities and how to apply are available here.
The Heart of the South West is one of the most rural LEP areas in the country, with 91% of its land area classified as rural. The business population spans both the rural and urban environment on a roughly 50:50 basis.

For projects with a funding agreement in place prior to the UK’s exit from the EU, funding will be guaranteed by Her Majesty’s Treasury even if projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU.


More information about the Heart of the South West European Structural Investment Fund is available here.

Devolution Partnership Productivity Plan Consultation

Following the Government publishing its Green Paper on the national Industrial Strategy, the Heart of the South West Devolution Partnership has launched the first phase of consultation on its Productivity Plan. This will be a key part of shaping the LEP area’s response to the Industrial Strategy.

The plan will ultimately align with the key themes of the national strategy and will demonstrate how the Heart of the South West can make a significant contribution to helping to close the UK’s productivity gap. It will also be an important tool to leverage maximum resources and government focus on the Heart of the South West. Many of the topics covered in the ten pillars of the Industrial Strategy are relevant to the strengths and opportunities in our area, such as science & innovation, the nuclear sector and improving STEM skills.

The Heart of the South West consultation paper is hosted on Torbay Council’s website at: and the press release issued by the HotSW Devolution Partnership is available here.

Brexit Opportunities and Resilience Group Update

The group was set up to gather evidence on the opportunities and risks of Brexit across Devon and Somerset. The third meeting was held this month and lots of work is underway. 

Evidence is being collated on major projects in each local authority area which have stalled due to Brexit and we are also keen to understand where there may be opportunities emerging; some have responded with information and intelligence, and we invite those districts which haven’t responded yet to give us their views.

Plymouth City Council is providing some research and analysis support for the group and their first projects will be to look at the issues and opportunities around agriculture, construction and the labour market.

An online Knowledge Hub group has been initiated to share information and have discussions online, you can find it here

We are also keen to receive anecdotal evidence from business visits, feedback from round table discussions, results of surveys you may have completed and any other intelligence you may have from your local area on the impact Brexit is having among your business community. Please contact Hattie Winter for more information or to join the knowledge hub group 07785 454130.

We are particularly interested to hear from businesses in the construction sector, they are invited to take part in the Business Confidence Survey for Construction Businesses before 28 February.

Funding success for Heart of the South West Enterprise Zone

The Heart of the South West LEP Enterprise Zone takes a step forward as the LEP is awarded £35,000 from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to develop the zone at the Huntspill and Exeter & East Devon sites.

Enterprise Zone status for these sites (one at Huntspill Energy Park in Somerset and four in Exeter and East Devon: Exeter Science Park, Skypark, Cranbrook and Exeter Airport) was announced in 2015, in addition to the existing site at Oceansgate in Plymouth. Across these sites, the zone has the potential to deliver 22,000 jobs and generate £360million in business rates which will be re-invested locally.

The grant will be matched by a further £35,000 from East Devon District Council and Sedgemoor Council. The money will be spent on a range of activities including State Aid advice, marketing, planning and legal support.

Work starts on site at Oceansgate

This month the first turf was cut to mark the start of the Phase 1 build of the country’s only Marine Enterprise Zone at Oceansgate in Plymouth, part of the Heart of the South West’s multi-site Enterprise Zones, and a new promotional video has been launched to promote Oceansgate.

The first phase entails the construction of two and three-storey buildings at the entrance of what will become a Marine Industries Production Campus in Devonport.

Designed to be flexible for industrial as well as office and workshop space, the buildings have been arranged to reflect the historic nature of South Yard as well as the street pattern just outside the boundaries. The buildings are of a high quality using a number of natural materials such as limestone and meet the highest environmental standards.

The £7.7m project could house office, design suites, testing labs and training rooms for technology development and prototype production spaces as well as workshops for engineering and manufacturing.

Phase 1 aims to attract businesses involved in marine innovation and will have access to deep water. It will see the creation of 1,140 m2 of office space and 1,293 m2 of light industrial space arranged as two terraces. Negotiations are well underway to develop a marine business technology centre, will be housed in this Phase 1 development. There have already been over 100 expressions of interest from marine businesses and organisations.



Business Views needed for North Devon Rail Survey

The Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership, Great Western Railway and Network Rail are developing a strategy for the North Devon line for the next 30 years and would like to hear from businesses and the community throughout the region on their thoughts and how the railway can play a part in developing the economy of the area. 

They aim to explore the current rail experience, the needs and expectations of the railway, and to develop an understanding from people and businesses that don’t use the railway or consider it as a mode of travel.

The partnership welcomes feedback from the businesses and the community, whether users of the railway or not. 

They want to hear what businesses require from the railway, such as better connectivity to London and other UK cities, improved on board facilities such as WiFi and catering, a reliable service all the year round or may be access to freight or parcel movements by rail etc.

It is also important to hear from communities that are not directly served by rail, such as Bideford, Braunton, Ilfracombe and the fringes of Exmoor & Dartmoor; and how the railway can play a part.

Take part in the survey here:

Topping Out at state-of-the-art STEM Centre

The building of City College Plymouth’s new Regional Centre of Excellence for STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) celebrated a significant milestone this month with its “topping out” ceremony.
The £13million state-of-the-art facility - funded by the LEP’s Growth Deal and Plymouth City Council - will provide a flexible learning environment that simulates ‘real work’ scenarios with industry-standard workshops, laboratories and studios. It will be equipped with high-tech resources to support a broader and more relevant STEM curriculum.

Developing STEM is a local and national priority for addressing skills shortages, therefore the new centre will focus on the area’s priority sectors to provide growth and investment in skills development, connectivity and innovation. This will include support for job creation, particularly in high growth sectors, to drive productivity and promote enterprise.

Work started in February last year and is due to be completed in autumn 2017. With the full height of the five-story building now reached, work is underway developing the leading edge facilities inside.
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