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South west in powerhouse bid

Panorama of Bristol

South west England and south east Wales have the potential to be hyper-connected, smart and specialist regions, according to industry leaders.

In a meeting at the House of Commons, representatives from the regions met politicians to discuss how the two regions could be recognised as an economic powerhouse in its own right alongside the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine.

Representatives from leading universities, local enterprise partnerships and major organisations attended the event which was organised by the South West England and South East Wales Science and Innovation Audit consortium. It was hosted by vice-chancellors and senior representatives of University of Bath, University of Bristol, Cardiff University, University of Exeter, Plymouth University and UWE Bristol.

Bath University president and vice-chancellor Glynis Breakwell urged leaders to be bold in their ambitions for south west England and south east Wales, led by the recent science and innovation audit which she described as “the most important evaluation ever undertaken of our region’s research and industrial capacity”.

“The audit found that we can lead the UK and compete with the world in the areas of advanced engineering and digital innovation,” she said. “Under the theme of advanced engineering, we have the largest aerospace sector in the UK and world-leading expertise in automotive, nuclear, space, marine and marine renewables and microelectronics sectors. Our region is rightly synonymous with digital iInnovation, with the second largest digital economy cluster outside London. 

“Our call to the UK government is to recognise these pre-eminent strengths with focused investment and we must also capitalise on the valuable relationships forged by the science and innovation audit process.”

The audit identified that the region is home to 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.

GW4 director Sarah Perkins spoke on behalf of the Science and Innovation Audit consortium to announce the launch of a special taskforce with the mission of making the region’s voice heard in Westminster.

Perkins said: “The audit provided unparalleled evidence of advanced engineering and digital Innovation sectors of world-leading scale, on our doorstep. We look forward to working with the UK government and our partners in other universities, industry and local enterprise partnerships to build and strengthen the Great Western network.”

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