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November 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 

In the week that saw the mainline railway cut off again by storms, it’s a timely reminder to government and rail partners that this region needs significant investment into the resilience of its railways and transport infrastructure if we are to achieve the levels of productivity that the government wants and needs us to do, in order to contribute towards a successful post-Brexit economy.

So we welcome the new report on this issue by the Peninsula Rail Task Force, Closing the Gap. As partners in the Task Force we support its findings and urge everyone as stakeholders to draw attention to the opportunities the report highlights for investment in the South West. A copy can be found on our website here.

Earlier this week, the Chancellor talked about productivity in the media, and how his Autumn statement gives leverage to improving productivity by investment in infrastructure. Well; this is a golden opportunity to show confidence in this area and invest to succeed.

Phillip Hammond plans to borrow £23bn over 5 years to invest in areas that will raise productivity. He mentioned roads, rail, broadband, affordable housing, science and innovation R & D – all priority strategies for us – so we look forward to continuing to press for a focus on the Heart of the South West.

You may have heard some speculation about the level of funding expected for Growth Deal 3; so just to confirm: we don’t have a formal confirmation of any funding as yet – we only know the South West package is £191million. What we do know though, is that the fund nationally was three times over-subscribed; so whilst we are confident that we submitted a high quality bid, we have to remain realistic and expect that our final allocation will be less than hoped for.

We are also still waiting for information on this round of the transport majors fund. Our bid was submitted at the same time as Growth Deal 3, so there’s potential for some project investment through this fund to align with the key aims of the PRTF report.

We are making progress on addressing productivity though, which is the government’s priority in improving the UK economy. We launched our preparatory work on developing our new Heart of the South West Productivity Plan last week with our first meeting with technical leads from across the area in which we explored what we mean by the term “productivity” and why HotSW is lagging behind, despite having a reasonable level of employment compared to other areas.

The Productivity Plan will mirror the aims of the Devolution Deal and will evolve over four stages: data gathering, which is underway now; developing a vision and testing through you and other stakeholders; developing a detailed plan; and finally the delivery of the plan. There’ll be more about this in the next newsletter as the intelligence gathering gets underway, and updates will be published on the web as well as opportunities to comment on our emerging findings.

Can I take this chance to urge you to visit the new website; it’s now a lot easier to find and view meeting documentation and reports etc; and just a reminder for those of you who might not have yet seen the presentations from the LEP Annual Conference last month, they are available here.

ESIF Update - Register now for our free ERDF Info Event on 7 December

The LEP has recently been notified that a new round of ERDF funding opportunities will be published in the coming weeks at

To maximise awareness and take up of these upcoming ERDF funding opportunities, we’re holding an 'ERDF Info Event' on 7 December in Exeter. The event will feature speakers from the Department for Communities and Local Government who manage the ERDF programme. 

The main event will provide potential ERDF applicants with information and networking opportunities in relation to anticipated upcoming ERDF calls for aerospace, linking students and graduates to industry, SME digital utilisation, investor readiness and low carbon activities.  This will be followed by a session looking in more detail at the ERDF low carbon priority and associated funding opportunities. Individuals are able to register for the main event only or both the main event and the in-depth low carbon session.

As well as publicising the calls, the event aims to help prospective applicants understand what is needed for a successful ERDF application.

For further information (including timings) and to register for the event, please click here

The event is free to attend and places will be allocated on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. The event is part-funded by ERDF and forms part of the Heart of the South West Technical Assistance Project and the Heart of the South West LEP Conversations.

We expect further ESIF funding opportunities, including through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), to come on stream in due course.

Finally, the LEP has recently been notified that the ERDF allocation for the HotSW ‘Transition’ area of Devon, Plymouth and Torbay local authorities has been increased by €1.8 million, with details on specific arrangements for these monies to follow from Government. We will provide further updates on developments here in this newsletter and on our website.


Closing the Gap’ – The South West Peninsula strategic rail blueprint


Closing the Gap’ is the Peninsula Rail Task Force’s plan for investment into the South West Peninsula’s strategic rail network. The plan was officially launched to Government on 22 November.

The plan defines the Task Force’s ambition of a 21st century rail network underpinned by three priorities: Resilience and reliability; Faster journey times; Improved connectivity with sufficient capacity.

After carrying out extensive research and study with the rail industry, ‘Closing the Gap’ sets out a long term cascade of improvements needed to close the growing gap between the South West and the rest of the UK in terms of rail funding and improvements. Investment is expected to deliver over £8.4 billion in economic benefits over the next 20 years.

Read ‘Closing the Gap’ – The South West Peninsula strategic rail blueprint here. The task force has also produced an appendix to the report that list in more details outputs from the studies and has additional information to support the recommendations made within ‘Closing the gap’. Visit the website of the Peninsula Rail Task Force for more information:

LEP Conversations - Opportunity to meet with the Growth Hub and the LEP


We hope that you can join us for a chance to find out how the HotSW Growth Hub can help your business and to find out more about the HotSW LEP.
We are trialling a new approach, to give the wider business community in Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay an opportunity to better engage with the HotSW LEP and this time to also meet with the Growth Hub.  There will be one workshop in Somerset on Wednesday 14th December and one in Devon on Thursday 19th January.  If you would like to find out more about your LEP and to hear the latest from the Growth Hub about support for business, then please book your place at one of these events.

Please note that as this is a pilot, places are limited and booking is on a first come first served basis.  If you don’t manage to book a place on these workshops; and in order to gauge the interest for future events, you can register on a reserve list.
For the Somerset event
For the wider Devon event 

“One of the most vibrant regions in the UK” South West England and South East Wales Science and Innovation Audit (SWW-SIA)

A consortium of major businesses, Local Enterprise Partnerships and higher education institutions 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.

The consortium welcomes the government’s announcement this week to establish an Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to support collaborations between business and the UK’s science base.

Yesterday’s Autumn Statement confirmed an additional £4.7 billion by 2020-21 in R&D funding help boost UK productivity, and the consortium is ready to use the findings of this audit to launch effective initiatives to take up these new opportunities.

The government invited the SWW-IA audit, which was led by 6 universities working with key organisations, including Airbus, the Met Office, Rolls Royce and Johnson Matthey, and Local Enterprise Partnerships across the region.

It identified that South West England and South East Wales is home to the largest aerospace sector in the UK and pioneering automotive, nuclear, marine and marine renewables and microelectronics industries.

The region also has strengths in digital innovation: it’s home to the largest silicon design cluster outside of the USA; there’s more climate expertise here than any other area worldwide; it’s a global powerhouse for microelectronics industry; and a national exemplar for smart cities.

Opportunities to raise productivity include integrating the scientific and industrial strengths of the region, such as investment in the Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult, the proposed Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems, and a National Composites Materials Centre.

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

The government has thanked the consortium for the audit and its findings have been incorporated into Autumn Statement and proposals for the new Industrial Strategy to raise Productivity through science, research and innovation.

Steve Hindley, Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We at the LEP have long been aware of area’s significant strengths in these sectors, which our forthcoming Devolution plan underpins.

“The findings of the audit are immensely encouraging but do remind us of the missing links that need to be put into place by investment in order for us to fulfil the enormous potential that’s been recognised here. Therefore HotSW LEP welcomes the proposal for a nationwide Industrial Strategy to enable this area to harness the opportunities and address the gaps in funding and infrastructure that the audit highlighted.”

Prof Judith Petts, HotSW LEP Board Member and Vice Chancellor of the University of Plymouth, which was part of the consortium, said: “The audit shows that the South West has world-leading capabilities to make a real impact on productivity across a variety of sectors. It highlighted strengths such as big data, sensors, cyber-security and autonomous systems, which means we can really hone in on our specialisms to help the country achieve growth.”


Heart of the South West selected as pilot LEP by the Smart Specialisation Hub

The Heart of the South West was one of two pilot LEPs (the other being Greater Manchester LEP) chosen by the Smart Specialisation Hub as a result of their involvement with the first round of the Science and Innovation Audits.  

The Hub’s observatory function will showcase a range of visualisations for each pilot LEP, designed to enable users to easily track innovation performance within and across LEPs.

"LEPs are making a significant impact" says latest independent research


Research recently commissioned from Metro Dynamics by the LEP Network examined three major areas of LEP activity: business engagement, devolution, and industrial strategy.

It assessed the extent to which LEPs have a unique impact in their local economies in these areas, and the value they bring to the table at a time when their core mission of economic growth and increased productivity is central to government policy.

The research, Leading the Way, "provides a timely reminder that LEPs are making a significant impact", and reveals how LEPs are forging new cross-boundary and cross-sector partnerships to boost local economic growth.


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