Call for government investment to strengthen advanced engineering and digital innovation in SW England and SE Wales

Issue date: 03 November 2016

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The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) has formed part of an important consortium of major businesses, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and higher education institutions that has 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, and has called for targeted government investment to drive innovation in these areas.

The UK government invited key organisations (including Airbus, the Met Office, Rolls Royce and Johnson Matthey), universities and LEPs in the region to collate the South West England and South East Wales Science and Innovation Audit (SWW-SIA).

The audit identified that the region is home to the largest aerospace sector in the UK and pioneering automotive, nuclear, marine and marine renewables and microelectronics industries.

South West England and South East Wales is also synonymous with digital innovation: home to the largest silicon design cluster outside of the USA; more climate expertise than any other area worldwide; global powerhouse microelectronics industry; a national exemplar for smart cities.

Professor Martin Boddy has represented UWE Bristol on the SWW-SIA consortium and he said, “It's really positive for the region that the audit has confirmed what many of us had already suspected. This is certainly backed up by recent research reports and projects at UWE Bristol. We have just this week released a report that identifies Bristol and Bath as the most sought after UK hub for design and creative industries with important links to both advanced engineering and digital industries.

“Our Centre for Air Quality Management was recently awarded significant funding from the European Commission Horizon 2020 programme to collaborate with 16 European partners on the CLAiR-City project to determine how we can reduce air pollution and improve public health. The plan to establish a Digital Innovation hub in Bristol and an Institute for Environmental Risk and Innovation, focused on the future climate and weather risks, are two key areas where we can potentially work with industry and university partners to make a real contribution to innovation and growth.”

The consortium now calls on the UK government for strategic investments to better integrate the scientific and industrial strengths across the region. In the immediate-term, the report underlines investment in the Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult, and recommends fully funding the proposed Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS), and in Composites Excellence – with the National Composites Materials Centre.

The SIA process has provided real impetus for collaborative working across the region. And this offers great potential benefits which can be realised by systematic and sustained investment from Government in partnership with the private sector.

The UK government has thanked the SWW-SIA consortium for their submission and is expected to make an announcement about its Industrial Strategy in the upcoming Autumn Statement.

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