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August 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 August edition of the LEP newsletter.

The news this month has been as hot as the weather; from the unexpected announcement by Theresa May that she needs to re-consider the government’s commitment to Hinkley following the long-awaited final investment decision from EDF – to some welcome re-assurance from DCLG that all European Funds allocated to projects before the Autumn Statement will be guaranteed, following much speculation after the Brexit vote.

There’s a comprehensive update on ESIF below. We can assure you all that we’re making our best efforts towards convincing the new administration of the clear-cut economic benefits of Hinkley Point C to the UK economy as well as to the south west. It’s the biggest investment currently planned in the UK and will be the first element in our new emerging nuclear sector which could benefit from fifty billion pounds of business opportunities.

To strengthen our links with the new key decision makers in Westminster, our chair, Steve Hindley has written to the new PM and the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark and he’s also been in touch with our new regional Ministerial champion, Jesse Norman.

I’ve had several meetings with our local MPs recently, and am scheduled to meet more. They’re very interested to hear about our priorities for the Growth Deal 3 bid we submitted in July and any other issues affecting growth in this area, such as the Western Power grid restrictions and our road, rail and broadband priorities.

On these ‘connectivity’ priorities, we will be shortly sharing with our MPs and stakeholders a new summary of the Greater Connected report that we first published in 2014. This will be a useful tool to remind government of existing commitments of where future investment will be focused.  We’ll share a copy of this on our website later in September.

On 13 August, the Treasury set out some initial arrangements for deployment of EU funds post the EU Referendum result, including providing a number of specific funding guarantees.
Under these arrangements, all European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) projects with signed contracts or funding agreements in place prior to the Autumn Statement will be fully funded, even if these projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU. This includes projects funded through:
  • The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), including the European Territorial Cooperation Programmes (INTERREG);
  • The European Social Fund (ESF);
  • The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), including Environmental Schemes, Countryside Stewardship, Countryside Productivity, Growth Programme and LEADER; and 
  • The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).

The Treasury will also put in place arrangements for assessing whether to guarantee funding for specific ESIF projects that might be signed after the Autumn Statement but whilst the UK remains a member of the EU. The Treasury will provide further details of these arrangements ahead of the Autumn Statement.

In addition, whilst the UK remains a member of the EU, UK organisations are still able to bid for European funds administered directly by the European Commission (such as Horizon 2020). The Treasury will underwrite the payment of grant awards through these funding programmes, even if projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU.

Furthermore, the Treasury is providing a guarantee that the current level of funding to the agricultural sector under Pillar 1 of the Common Agricultural Policy will be upheld until 2020. 

The full Treasury statement can be found here. If you are unsure what these European funding arrangements mean for your organisation or project, we would encourage you to make contact with the relevant funding body.

We welcome these announcements, but will continue to press the need for further Government commitments to continued investment in local growth initiatives, including in ESIF projects signed after the Autumn Statement.

Enhanced Contract Values from Hinkley

EDF Energy has announced enhanced contract values of an additional £240million for South West supplier alliances, bringing the combined contract values to date for local businesses to over £465million.

The Somerset Chamber of Commerce manages the Hinkley supply chain portal for the LEP, to enable businesses to engage in the construction of the proposed nuclear new build project. For information on registration, work packages and much more, visit

Along with EDF Energy, the Somerset Chamber’s Hinkley Supply Chain Team has been working hard behind the scenes with these and other local supplier groups, helping them get into the best position to bid for work at Hinkley Point C.

HotSW Rural Growth Pilot Delivers Best Return on Investment in the UK

The Heart of the South West Rural Growth Network (RGN) Pilot has shown resounding success for its projects to support the rural economy; the results can be seen at this infographic.
The RGN Initiative was set up in 2012 with a national allocation of £12.5m from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and £1.6m from Government Equalities Office (GEO) in response to barriers to rural economic growth.
The Heart of the South West successfully bid to run one of five pilot projects across the UK, designed to tackle the barriers to economic growth in the countryside, such as a shortage of work premises, slow internet connectivity, fragmented business networks, competitiveness, lack of properly skilled people, and support for micro-enterprise. The results speak for themselves:
Over 400 firms were engaged in successful planning; over 100 new businesses were created, over 350 new jobs were created, and a business support survey indicates a potential £56m turnover increase. In total, over 4,000 businesses made contact with the Rural Growth Pilot and 2,000 recieved extended support as a result.
Business centres were created at: Bicton, Dartington, Holsworthy, Highbridge, Minehead, Dulverton, and two work hubs in Somerset and 21.5 acres of business land was developed for sale in Okehampton  – that’s around 14 football pitches!
10 enterprise and employability projects were awarded funding, totalling £113,000 under the Enterprise in Schools grant, enabling more than 1,500 pupils to achieve the skills they need to become employable in the real world of work.
The project exceeded some of its targets too – there were 890 Women Led Enteprises that benefitted against an original target of 450.
HotSW LEP achieved the best value in the country for the return on the amount of funding spent to the pilot projects; for each £1 of DEFRA investment, we achieved £5.22 in match funding, compared to a national average of £2.21 for other RGNs. The total investment in the HotSW RGN programme was over £24million.
In terms of support for businesses, over 400 received a digital review, there were 250 recipients of business support vouchers and over 1,500 rural businesses were helped with a Growth Action Plan. Of these businesses supported a 97% customer satisfaction rate is reported.
The final national evaluation report will be published by DEFRA in the autumn.

Growth Hub Partnership Events

The next Growth Hub Partnership Networking event is taking place at the Moorland Hall, Wheddon Cross, Exmoor on the 8th of September. Spaces are  still available for business support providers to get an update on Growth Hub activities, hear from local support providers and provide updates on the support services they have available for businesses. BOOK NOW.

Digital Marketing in 2017 – The Growth Hub are working in partnership with the Get up to Speed programme to deliver these events which will provide top tips, tools and techniques to help businesses stay ahead of the curve. Events are now open for bookings and are taking place in Barnstaple, Plymouth, Ilminster and Glastonbury.

Growth Hub Success Story - Made for Mutts

Charlotte Baker started on a very traditional path to the world of fashion design by studying for a Fashion and Textiles degree at Somerset College. During her second year of the course Charlotte was busy designing wedding dresses and bridal wear when she suddenly had her ‘Eureka’ moment.

An avid dog lover and owner, Charlotte wanted to try something new and create something unique, so she combined her love of four legged friends with her eye for great design producing collars, leads and accessories for dogs. Read more…

Growth Deal funded M5 J25 upgrade proposals to be showcased

Plans to upgrade Junction 25 of the M5, part funded by the LEP’s Growth Deal, will be going on display next month.

Two public events will be held for people to view the plans, ask questions and give feedback. The drop-in sessions take place from 2pm to 7pm at Ruishton Village Hall on Monday 19 September and at Taunton Library on Wednesday 21 September.

Junction 25 is the main access point to Taunton and provides a critical link to the second strategic route into the South West: the A303 via the A358.

The proposed scheme will increase the capacity of this vital link to improve traffic flow, ease peak hour congestion and unlock land for employment.

It involves full signalisation and widening of the roundabout, improved signs on approach to the junction, widening of the eastern exit, a new roundabout to access the proposed Strategic Employment Site, and improved pedestrian and cycling facilities.

The business case has been approved, meaning the scheme can progress to the more detailed design and consultation stage.

Plymouth Science Park topping out

Plymouth Science Park’s landmark building, 1 Research Way, held its Topping Out ceremony this week, and already has London-based firms wanting to move in: IO Technologies and The Key.

Both are relocating their R&D hubs to Plymouth Science Park, drawn by its innovation, support for businesses, technological advancement and partnership working with the LEP, Plymouth University and Plymouth City Council.

The new building will form the entrance to Plymouth Science Park which is located behind the West Country’s biggest hospital, Derriford. 1 Research Way will offer the best ICT infrastructure available, delivering superfast broadband connectivity, network resilience and access to Plymouth Science Park’s Level 3 Data Centre.

The LEP’s Growth Deal has funded £3million to this important development, which is designed to act as a regional catalyst for science and technology innovation. The further development of Plymouth Science Park will create 2,972 sqm of new and refurbished space and generate 190 jobs.  

The 25-acre campus is home to innovative technology, digital, creative, marine and science-based businesses from one person start-ups to multi-national corporations and has a total of 180,000sq ft. of space, with offices varying in size.

The news that these latest companies are investing here is credit to the success of the project, and the popularity of the Heart of the South West for growing businesses - attracted by excellent-value property and development sites, a skilled-workforce and quality of life.

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