'Great West' region can make the UK a global leader, say Vice-Chancellors and industry leaders

Issue date: 26 January 2017


South West England and South East Wales Science and Innovation Audit consortium event

South West England and South East Wales can recapture the ambitious vision of Isambard Kingdom Brunel as a hyper-connected, smart and specialist region, MPs have heard.

In a successful event at the House of Commons sponsored by Ben Bradshaw MP, representatives from leading universities, Local Enterprise Partnerships and major organisations met with politicians to discuss how they can work together to ensure that the region is recognised as an economic powerhouse in its own right, alongside the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine.

The event was organised by the South West England and South East Wales Science and Innovation Audit consortium and hosted by all six Vice-Chancellors of the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), University of Bath, University of Bristol, Cardiff University, University of Exeter and Plymouth University.

Steve West, Vice-Chancellor of UWE Bristol, said: “The Science and Innovation Audit provides us with a significant platform to engage and collaborate across universities and industry sectors. We are serious about being global leaders and will use the region's significant assets to forge new ways of working which are innovative and creative. This signals a step change in our approach to collaboration and partnership. The audit demonstrates significant strengths across our region supporting cutting edge research and development, innovation and enterprise. Through our University Enterprise Zone and innovation centres, we are developing and designing the technologies and workforce for the future.

“You only have to look at the companies emerging from Bristol Robotics Laboratory, the UK's largest, and the Pervasive Media Studio at the Watershed to see the potential for solving some of the UK's biggest challenges such as producing significantly cheaper, quicker medical and digital technology for the health sector.”

The Audit identified that the region is home to the largest aerospace sector in the UK; the most productive and second largest (outside London) digital economy cluster in the UK; the UK's first nuclear power station for a generation; more climate expertise than any other area worldwide; and the growth potential for the world's first compound semiconductor cluster.

Senior representatives from major organisations in the region, including Airbus, described how researchers and industry partners can work together to develop pioneering solutions to global challenges, and generate wealth and jobs for local communities.

The South West England and South East Wales taskforce will now work together to take forward the recommendations of the Science and Innovation Audit and to ensure that the region is recognised in Westminster as an economic powerhouse in its own right.

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