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Finance Industry Opinion

Does the South West have the potential to become an economic hub?


The South West has the potential to become an economic hub, and with some careful nurturing from those in power, the South West could become a major player in levelling up the country.

Does the South West have the potential to become an economic hub?


"Today, there is a swell of entrepreneurs and successful businesses looking to invest in the next generation but they need resources."
Sharon Fishburne



It is no secret that the South West of England has been lagging behind for many years. As a region, it suffers from low wages, low productivity and high unemployment rates. The same trends can also be found in its major cities: Bristol and Plymouth, amongst others. However, with the help of key industries – from green energy to aerospace.

Why the South West?

Despite, its historically low productivity, the South West region is going from strength to strength. With a strong economy and a bustling entrepreneurial spirit, the region is filled with big business and big ideas. In fact, research from PwC shows that 64% of the region’s Gross Value Added (GVA) comes from private enterprises, contributing to a regional economy worth £82 billion.

Figures also show that there are four key areas for growth for business in the region. These include the digital economy, industrial cluster development, tourism, and infrastructure investment. According to research conducted by Allied London, industrial clusters could prove particularly successful in the region; over half of South West firms said it would be easy to enter an industrial cluster there.

This is further supported by research from Bournemouth University and Aecom, states that existing clusters - including health, bioscience, aerospace and digital - are rapidly growing and attracting high-skilled jobs.

The South West also boasts some of the United Kingdom’s most productive firms, with an average productivity rate 40% higher than the national average. A solid combination of public and private sector technology research will help drive further innovation in the region, while national infrastructure projects like HS2 and smart energy grids will help connect the South West to global markets.

What are the key industries?

The South West is home to lots of economic clusters. Bristol is home to the aerospace and advanced manufacturing cluster, Exeter specialises in design and engineering, and Bournemouth leads the way in the digital and creative industries.

Not only that, but according to a report by HM Treasury, the South West has some of the most productive universities and research centres in the entire country.

The South West is also set to become a hub for renewable power. The government is soon to decide whether to go ahead with nuclear power station Hinkley Point C. There are also plans to build an offshore wind farm in Southampton Water, which could produce enough energy for up to one million homes.

The plans, put forward by Renewable Energy Systems, would also see two tidal lagoons built off the coast of Bridgwater and the Isle of Wight, which could each generate 500 megawatts of electricity.

Tech has also been tipped as an important industry that will help fuel an economic revival. Over the last few years, there has been a lot of talk about the South West of England becoming the next Silicon Valley. The region is home to some of the most exciting tech companies in the UK, such as Syncano, Kano and Truphone.

The South West is also home to Fathom - the only UK company to make it past round one of NASA’s 3D printed spacecraft challenge to get to round two, back in May 2015. Looking at this infrastructure led us to believe that the South West has the opportunity to become a centre for tech innovation right on its doorstep.

A region with hundreds of miles of coastline, the South West also has a deep-seated maritime heritage, that to this day, is a massive source of employment in the region. Devonport has the largest naval base in western Europe, and Bristol is home to the Bristol Port Company, a global shipping company that was founded by Terence Mordaunt and Sir David Ord.

How can this be achieved?

The South West of England needs more Government investment. The South West of England is a region of the UK with a long history of innovation. Today, there is a swell of entrepreneurs and successful businesses looking to invest in the next generation – but they need resources. The region’s economic potential is vast; the government just needs to unlock it.

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