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July 2016

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

Welcome to the July edition of the LEP newsletter.
We appear to be living in interesting times; it’s important for us as a partnership to keep up with the changing economic and political environment so that we can continue to really make a difference. One thing that helps the LEP, with its streamlined core team of five people, is the ability to adapt to change very quickly, which is what we are likely to have to do in light of Brexit and the moving political landscape.

That’s not to say that big decisions are made by a small number of people though - quite the opposite in fact - the team has spent the last month drawing on evidence and feedback from a breadth of partners to enable us to act quickly on policy and funding bids so that we can claim first-mover advantage by making our voice known in the new cabinet and government departments.

That said, we need to stress than our mainstream work - investing in jobs, growth and prosperity - is continuing unaffected.  We are still progressing the roll-out of a £500m investment pipeline, with new funding agreements being made with project sponsors so work can get underway.
All three leadership groups: Business, People & Place; which combine the expertise of Local Authority economic development leads, private sector business, social enterprises and non-government organisations; have quickly got together and produced a snapshot analysis of the opportunities and effects of Brexit in their areas of work; as have our private and public sector directors on the LEP board.

We’re setting up a HotSW Brexit Resilience and Opportunities Group with our Local Authorities as an active team to focus on what else we can do to harness the new openings and mitigate the threats of Brexit, and we have instigated fact-finding work to help the group define its priorities.

It’s early days, but we can already see some emerging potential opportunities: Working with the Homes and Communities Agency to see if we can help unblock any stalled housing sites; trying to extend the Growing Places loan scheme to help kickstart other stalled infrastructure projects; and working with universities, businesses, supply chains and skills centres to accelerate the progress and benefits of innovation.

On a practical level, the LEP is already helping by funding some of projects at risk, particularly those reliant on European funding, which is allowing the projects to proceed more quickly while HMG looks at the long term planning of the ESIF funds.

On the funding front, yesterday we submitted our latest Growth Deal bid. We’ve asked for £109m to deliver a range of transformational projects including ambitious flood defence schemes and more connectivity; and we’ve laid down a marker for the future investment in the North Devon Link Road as part of the Transport Majors Fund, also submitted today, but separate from the Growth Deal as it’s for transport projects over £75m. There’s more on these bids in the article below.

We understand the government is increasingly keen to see cross-LEP partnerships in action rather than in direct competition; so with this in mind we will leverage more investment by gearing and aligning our asks to cross-LEP projects with mutual benefit. Prior to the referendum we were already working on a number of joint projects with our partners in neighbouring LEPs: We’ve been working on the re-iteration of the top requirements for road, rail and broadband in the Greater Connected Strategy agreed by the five South West LEPs in 2014; we’ve joined forces with West of England LEP, GFirst LEP and business partners to launch the Nuclear South West partnership to harness the unprecedented economic opportunities in the nuclear sector in our area; and we work with partner south west LEPs on our inward investment activity such as promoting our sector strengths at the recent Farnborough Air Show and the Word Nuclear Exhibition.

Yesterday evening we had news of EDF’s final investment decision on Hinkley, and we urge the government to make a quick decision in support of the project. Whilst the LEP hasn’t invested any funds into this private sector development itself, our aim is to help generate a meaningful legacy in that will bring transformational growth for the surrounding communities for decades to come. 

Finally, promoting and nurturing the sector strengths the Heart of the South West are integral to the area’s Devolution Plans. These sectors are captured within six themes or “Golden Opportunities”. There’s an update on Devolution on our website with news about the plans for a Combined Authority, the full Prospectus for Productivity and some Frequently Asked Questions.

Growth Deal 3 and Transport Majors Bid

Our LEP has a reputation for delivery. Over the past 3-4 years we have secured nationally top ranking Growth Deal settlements and proved ourselves flexible, ambitious and highly competent at securing funding aligned consistently to our Strategic Economic Plan. We anticipate the current round will be even more competitive than the last two, and other LEPs have stepped up their work on investment propositions and how they will meet the criteria Government have set.

Submissions were invited for outline investments for Growth Deal 3 under each of our three predominantly private sector led Leadership Groups: People, Place and Business, following criteria set by the Minister of State Greg Clark. Many organisations submitted ideas us and to our project bank (signposted on our website) and these formed the foundation of our bid. From the review of these groups, the prospective investment list was refined, with a “snapshot” presented at a Ministerial challenge session earlier this month. HotSW MPs were consulted and we have now constructed a bid based on an indicative list of projects that make the best possible case for investment in our area. Final prioritisation was signed off by the Board last week. The full bid documents for Growth Deal and Transport Majors can be read here.

Barbara Shaw, Chair of the Place Leadership Group

Each month we bring you the latest from one of the LEP’s three Leadership Groups: People, Place and Business. This month’s column is from Barbara Shaw, Chair of the Place Leadership Group and Chief Executive of Westward Housing Group.

The Place Leadership Group is the strategic lead group for infrastructure, place shaping and strategic planning issues in the HotSW area relating to the growth agenda. The group leads on the governance arrangements for the EAFRD (European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development) part of the European Structural Investment Funds (ESIF) strategy.

HotSW receives the largest European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) allocation in England therefore it’s extremely important that we make our case to government departments and maximise the value of these funds to our rural communities. Chris Garcia has written to the Rural Payments Agency to seek re-assurance on the timings of implementing our EAFRD programme given the delays that have been experienced, and to ask for guidance on our plans to open calls in 2016/17. We’ve provided the Rural Payments Agency with a thorough update on the programme into a workable strategy and we anticipate that calls for projects relating to tourism, food processing and small business development will be issued by the Agency this autumn.

The LEP board has recognised the need to explore the implications of losing the Common Agricultural Policy as a result of Brexit, and that this agenda will be picked up in the LEP’s work on the newly established Brexit Resilience and Opportunities Group (BROG).

Alongside the Growth Deal process, which Chris has outlined in his introduction, a Large Local Transport Major Schemes bid has been invited by the DfT for schemes requiring investment of £75m or above that Growth Deal can’t cover, such as a proposed North Devon Link Road. This will vastly improve the infrastructure of the HotSW area and open up development land for business and housing in North Devon

Housing is another key work stream that the Place group deals with, and we are working with the Devolution housing and infrastructure leads to look at what actions are needed to facilitate the delivery of our housing targets and influence government policy on housing to be more in line to meeting the needs of our specific HotSW communities, where average house prices are high and average salaries are low, which exacerbates our skills retention and therefore impacts on business and growth.

Nuclear South West

Yesterday EDF energy announced its final investment decision on the construction of Hinkley Point C, and we urge the government to confirm its support very soon, in recognition of its value to the UK economy and legacy for the south west. Here is a round-up of the latest news around the nuclear sector that’s been happening over the last month, which gives a snapshot of the immense economic potential presented by the industry, its supply chain, training and employment opportunities.

Nuclear South West Westminster Launch – Powering the UK’s Nuclear Future

On the historic day that Andrea Leadsom withdrew and Theresa May was announced as the Conservative party leader, the south west’s own leaders were in the House of Commons setting out the £50 billion worth of opportunities for businesses that can provide services for the nuclear industry in the region under the new partnership Nuclear South West NSW.

The event was hosted by Bridgwater MP Ian Liddell-Grainger, in whose constituency Hinkley Point C is situated. Tom Greatrex, former Shadow Energy Minister and now chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, and Matt Burley, chair of the Nuclear South West Industry Network Board. A delegation from Nuclear South West included representatives from the three local enterprise partnerships, local council figureheads and business leaders. Read more about the event here.

World Nuclear Exhibition - Paris

Also earlier this month, the Nuclear South West partners attended the World Nuclear Exhibition, which is the world’s leading event for nuclear business. The delegation promoted the region’s extensive nuclear capability and generated hundreds of leads to follow up to attract potential investment. Read more about the event here.

Hinkley Legacy

Having the first new nuclear build in a generation taking shape in our area will provide businesses with immense opportunities. Whilst it’s important to emphasise that Heart of the South West LEP has not invested in Hinkley itself, it has invested in the following initiatives to generate a legacy of employment, skills and enhanced supply chain opportunities to enable local businesses and people to benefit from the development:

  • The Hinkley Supply Chain is helping a breadth of sectors – not just nuclear – benefit from supply chain opportunities, from catering to construction.
  • The Hinkley Point Training Agency has been developed see that will support the main contractors to source / recruit suitably locally trained and qualified staff for the 28,000 different job roles during the construction period which cover a massive range of activity. 
  • The LEP has invested in the south west hub of the National College for Nuclear, based at Bridgwater College, which will be providing higher level vocational skills for the industry.
  • The LEP’s Growth Deal has invested in infrastructure for innovation and collaboration at the Somerset Energy Innovation Centre,
  • The three-centre Enterprise Zone bid to government was successful - with a “Nuclear Enterprise Zone’ at Huntspill to attract inward investment.

European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Update

Following the EU referendum result, whilst Government works through the implications for ESIF, Departments have advised that at present much ESIF activity is continuing as usual.
This means that for ERDF, ESF and EAFRD ‘open call’ activity through Managing Authorities (DCLG, DWP and Defra / the RPA): 
  • Live calls, including the ‘enterprise and incubation space’ ERDF call for the Heart of the South West, remain open to outline applications;
  • Full ESIF applications can still be submitted to Managing Authorities as invited;
  • Managing Authorities continue to appraise both outline and full ESIF applications received, including seeking advice from local ESIF Sub-Committees on strategic fit; and
  • Live ESIF projects can continue to deliver and to claim ESIF monies.
However, nationally, there is currently a pause on Managing Authorities issuing new ESIF funding agreements and new ESIF calls for proposals until Government policy is clear.
For ESF opt-in activity:
  • The Skills Funding Agency (SFA) is continuing to run ESF procurement exercises, including for the Heart of the South West; and
  • Organisations invited to submit Stage 2 ‘Building Better Opportunities’ applications for the Heart of the South West are still able to bring forward and to submit proposals to the Big Lottery.  
The LEP continues to actively engage with Government officials, locally and nationally through the LEP Network, to press the need for the earliest possible clarity for local partners on the way forward for ESIF post the EU referendum. The strategic priorities for the Heart of the SW remain unchanged and the LEP is urging Government for continued investment in local growth initiatives. 
As soon as any further ESIF guidance emerges from Government, we will of course share this with you via the website.

Message from LEP Partnership Manager - Book Early for LEP’s Annual Conference 3rd October

We suggest that you book your place soon for the LEP’s Annual Conference, which this year will be held in the afternoon of Monday 3rd October near Exeter. You can book your place on Eventbrite at:

The Conference is an opportunity to meet with the wider LEP partnership and to network with other stakeholders.  It is a free event that is aimed at the private, public and third sectors, and that will include an update on present economic issues for our area and a look at what is planned for the future.  This year the focus will be around Productivity and particularly in relation to the ‘people’ and supply chain elements. 
Booking is essential and we recommend that you reserve your place soon, as we already have over 100 people registered.  Please use this link and if you have any queries please contact Sam Snowdon at

Venturefest South West - 18th October 2016

Connecting industry, innovation & investment at the South West’s biggest technology and entrepreneurship showcase at Sandy Park, Exeter.

Venturefest South West champions the most cutting edge innovation, technology and entrepreneurship coming out of Devon, Cornwall and Somerset.

This is the first event of its kind in the South West, bringing together talented small enterprise innovators and entrepreneurs from across the region along with investors on the lookout for emerging talent. In the deluge of news following Brexit, this is exactly the sort of initiative the LEP is pleased to encourage and support, given its focus on cutting edge technologies and high value enterprises and jobs.

Venturefest South West is free to attend. Places are limited and registration is open at

Heart of the South West LEP Showcase Enterprise Education – Inspiring Young People for Rewarding Careers

A video showcasing the work of the Heart of the South West (HotSW) LEP’s partnership work to make young people more aware of the full spectrum of employment opportunities can be viewed here.
There are some great examples of activity taking place across the HotSW area in enterprise education. The group wants to share these ideas with others and encourage more partners to become involved.

The LEP is working with young people, schools, teachers and employers on a range of initiatives including: Big Bang South West – a national programme focussing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics; the Pupil and Employer Engagement Programme – a North Devon-based initiative that aims to grow a successful and ambitious future workforce and tSpace – the Torbay Skills Platform for Advice on Careers and Employability.

There is more information and videos about these projects and more at

And if you are in business and would like to be involved as a mentor for young people in schools, find out about the Enterprise Adviser Network at:


Oceansgate, the new name for South Yard, funded by the Plymouth and South West Peninsula City Deal, is the first exclusively marine Enterprise Zone in the country, and part of the Heart of the South West LEP’s portfolio of three nationally designated enterprise zones.

Oceansgate is attracting commercial attention from businesses across the UK keen to move into the new site. Construction of Phase 1 will commence in early 2017 providing facilities that are designed to be flexible and easily adaptable so they can include office, design suites, testing labs and training rooms for technology development and prototypes production spaces as well as workshops for engineering and manufacturing and potentially laboratory space for research.

The South West Peninsula accounts for 14% of the marine sector nationally which means there is a wealth of marine and engineering skills in the area. There is also a high level of research and development happening in the south west. The site has the potential to bring these two very important sectors together to create more skilled jobs.

The Enterprise Zone status provides tax breaks including business rates discounts and more generous capital allowances as well as super-fast broadband. Income from business rates can be re-invested in Oceansgate for the next 25 years under the Enterprise Zone designation

The LEP is a key strategic partner of the City Deal programme providing financial support, advice and advocacy from board members and an interface with government departments. 


The Great British High Street Awards are now open

The Great British High Street Awards are looking for the nation’s best high streets and asking communities around the country to help by voting for their winners. ​Click here to read more.
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