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August 2014


Olympic Park architects to shape arena vision

World-class architects have been appointed to shape the creative vision for the site close to Temple Meads train station, where Bristol’s new arena is to be built. The Homes and Communities Agency, who owns the land, has brought Allies and Morrison on board to lead the master-planning exercise for the arena site.  Allies and Morrison were part of the team that led the master-planning for London 2012’s Olympic Park and the regeneration of Kings Cross, London. Read more.


Balloon Fiesta attracts more than half-a-million visitors

Bristol’s balloon fiesta gave the local economy a multi-million pound boost, bringing more than 500,000 visitors to Ashton Court. Now in its 36th year, the iconic event is one of the UK’s top five outdoor events and gains media coverage across the world worth £2 million. Watch a timelapse of this year’s fiesta here.


Barbara Davies appointed LEP chief executive

Barbara Davies has been appointed as new chief executive of the WE LEP. Barbara has been the LEP’s head of place & infrastructure since April 2012 and was previously head of transport for the West of England Partnership (WEP), which preceded the LEP. She will report to the LEP Board and LEP Executive. Find out more here.


Shaun the Sheep to follow in Gromit’s footsteps

Following the run-away success of last year’s ‘Gromit Unleashed’, plans have been confirmed that Summer 2015 will see a new arts trail in the form of Shaun the Sheep. ‘Shaun in the City’ will see 120 giant sculptures of Gromit’s pal popping up across the streets of London and Bristol, to raise money for sick children and attract visitors from across the world. Read more here.


LEP’s latest economic bulletin shows robust recovery

The LEP’s quarterly economic report from the second quarter of 2014 shows a robust recovery. As of June 2014, the number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance was at its lowest since November 2008 at 1.8%. The West of England visitor economy is also continuing to strengthen. Read the full report here.


New Cities for Business partnership launched to create growth outside London

A new ‘Cities for Business’ partnership has been launched covering the eight largest urban areas in England. It has been formed by the Core Cities Cabinet joining with the Chairs of the eight Local Enterprise Partnerships, taking in both the core cities and many other important towns and cities. The aim is to advise Government on creating growth outside the South East, support local businesses and work together on plans to create more jobs and investment. Full story here.


Superfast broadband to reach more rural homes and businesses

The Government’s rollout of superfast broadband has now reached more than 1 million homes and businesses across the UK, says Culture Secretary Sajid Javid. As a result, more than 116,644 homes and businesses in the South West (excluding Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly, Swindon & Bristol which have separate programmes) are already able to access the new fibre broadband service. Read more here.



Last chance to apply for Growth Fund

Businesses have until September 8th 2014 to apply for grants of up to £80,000 from the West of England Growth Fund, managed by the WE LEP. This third round of funding follows on from two previous rounds that have seen nearly 300 businesses successfully bid for a share of the £25 million pot.

The grants can be used by companies to part-fund projects, and can be used towards capital investment, research and development, training and job creation. It must be spent by March 31st 2015. Find out more and apply here.


Cleantech firm awarded nearly £100k for growth

Bristol-based Clean Energy Prospector (CEPRO) has been awarded £99,500 from the West of England Growth Fund for its ‘Skyprospector’ project. Skyprospector uses new technology to stimulate a virtual solar array and aims to drive the growth of domestic solar PV by allowing residents to visualise the value of solar energy prior to committing. The grant has enabled the team to carry out more R&D and increase staff numbers to seven. Read more here.


Funding sees cycling safety technology take to the road

Fusion Processing has used £283,000 from the Growth Fund to help finance the development of its innovative Cycle Eye product. Cycle Eye is an intelligent sensor that alerts drivers of large vehicles such as buses and HGVs to the presence of a cyclist alongside the vehicle. It incorporates radars and camera sensors and its unique selling point is that, unlike similar products, it can differentiate between a cyclist and other objects on the road and will only alert the driver when there’s a real danger of collision.

A preliminary trial in London saw the system achieve a 98.5% success rate and Transport for London have just announced it will be used on a number of their routes. It’s also been trialled by a number of operators in Bristol and has recently featured on BBC1’s The One Show. Find out more.



Missionly launches recruitment platform

Following a soft launch in February, Missionly is launching its innovative student and graduate recruitment platform across Bristol and Bath. The start-up, based at Engine Shed, is part of the WebStart Bristol accelerator programme and has ambitious plans to bring a new spin to recruitment.

Missionly already has over 50 local businesses on board, along with students from the four local universities. The Missionly founders have been awarded the UWE Entrepreneur of the Year 2014 award and are looking for investment to grow further. Find out more here.

Bristol Airport announces next phase of development

Within days of opening a £6.5m central walkway to ease congestion at peak travel times, Bristol Airport has announced plans for an extension to its terminal building. The £8.6m eastern terminal – the first major expansion of the terminal building since it opened in 2000 – will be finished in Summer 2015. The development is expected to attract new retail brands as well as creating more space for existing retailers, as well as hundreds of additional seats and an improved baggage area.

Bristol is the UK’s fifth largest airport outside London, handling 6.1m passengers in 2013. Passenger numbers in June reached record numbers for the month. Read more.


Tourism campaigns deliver jobs and growth for Bristol & Bath

Campaigns by Destination Bristol and Bath Tourism Plus have generated an increase in tourism spend and new jobs.

Bath Tourism Plus has revealed that its extensive marketing campaigns in Spring and Summer 2013 generated an additional £15.8m in tourism spend and created 293 jobs in the local area. Destination Bristol’s marketing initiatives over the same period generated £25.7m in additional tourism spend and an additional 476 jobs for the city. The marketing activities were both part of the VisitEngland-led campaigns, funded by the Government’s Regional Growth Fund.


North Somerset Enterprise Agency brings in 76 new businesses

The first six months of 2014 saw 76 new businesses start up in North Somerset with the assistance of North Somerset Enterprise Agency (NSEA), the not-for-profit organisation based in the newly built the Hive in Junction 21 Enterprise Area. The new businesses have already created 93 new jobs.

The agency has also identified that 90% of the new businesses that launched three years ago are still successfully trading. The first three years is significant because in this period, one in three new businesses is likely to fail. Find out more about NSEA and the Hive here.


Smartphone film puts Science Park in the frame

Bristol & Bath Science Park has again been used as the setting for the latest Samsung Galaxy promo film. The film features the Forum – the science park’s public meeting and eating space – as it tells the story of a designer who uses the smartphone across Bristol.

The promo is the latest in a number of films to be shot here, including robotics firm MapleBird, which is being used to promote a trade mission to California. See the film here.




International competition launched to design Bristol arena

An international competition to design Bristol’s new arena has been launched by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and Bristol City Council. Expressions of interest are being invited from design teams across the world. The project budget is approximately £90 million.

The successful design team will need to have architectural, structural and building engineering capabilities, as well as experience within the performance venue field and knowledge of the creation and development of urban spaces.

The 12,000 capacity arena is to be located on the former diesel depot site close to Temple Meads railway station and is anticipated to open in Summer 2017. Read more here.


£130m transport investment in North Somerset

North Somerset’s transport network is set to benefit from over £130 million of investment in a series of projects across the area. £16m has already been spent on major improvements between Weston town centre and junction 21 of the M5, and a further £3.3m will soon be invested in the Yanley Viaduct scheme on the A370.

North Somerset Council, with Bristol City Council, are delivering two major transport schemes worth £98m – the South Bristol Link and the Ashton Vale to Temple Meads MetroBus schemes.

Over £5m will be spent improving the existing road network, and £4.55m on local sustainable transport schemes. Read more here.


Bath’s £300,000 sports boost

Up to 4,000 people in the Bath & North East Somerset Council area are to be encouraged to improve their fitness, thanks to a new sports initiative. The council has received £209,445 of lottery funding to support grassroots sports activity. This has been matched by over £100,000 worth of matched funding from the council and Bath Rugby Foundation. Bath News & Media is providing a campaign package to support the initiative.

The funding will allow the partners to develop a new community programme using rugby, cycling, running and outdoor fitness to encourage 1,200 people a year to improve their fitness. Find out more here.


Bath’s parks celebrate Green Flag status

Bath is celebrating four local green spaces being awarded Green Flag status. The award, presented by the Keep Britain Tidy Group, is the benchmark national standard for parks and green spaces in the UK.

Keynsham Memorial Park, Silver Street Local Nature Reserve in Midsomer Norton, and Haycombe Cemetery and Royal Victoria Park in Bath have received the award, thanks to local communities working closely with Bath and North East Somerset Council. Read more here.


Multi-million pound green energy deal for Bristol

A multi-million pound contract to provide a dramatic improvement in the energy efficiency of all Bristol residents’ homes has been announced. Over the next four years, experts from Climate Energy will visit every property in the city and offer householders an energy efficiency survey. Properties found to be leaking heat will qualify for incentives to help pay for insulation measures and householders on low incomes will be offered help to replace old boilers.

Bristol is aiming to become the most sustainable city in the UK and will be European Green Capital in 2015. Full story here.



West’s retail offer being showcased in London

For the first time ever, the retail offering of the West of England is being collectively showcased to national and international retail agents, at a unique event at the House of Commons on October 22nd.

Broadmead, Cribbs Causeway, The Galleries, Cabot Circus, Southgate and the remaining retail offer in Bath, along with a representation of the ever growing independent retail offer across the region, are coming together to highlight the retail strengths and opportunities. Email John Hirst to find out more.


New Visitor Economy Group to focus regional tourism

The first meeting of the new Visitor Economy Group for the West of England was held on August 4th, with Colin Clark elected as chair. Colin has extensive tourism experience, including a senior role with the English Tourist Board.

The group’s main aim is to look for ways the region’s wide range of attractions and accommodation providers can better work together better to make the sector even more successful and help remove any barriers to growth.

The next meeting takes place on October 16th at 2pm. Email John Hirst to find out more.


High-tech sector in the spotlight at Balloon Fiesta

Bristol’s recent Balloon Fiesta played host to a debate on the region’s internationally-significant tech sector. The panel discussed the successes of the region’s high tech scene, as well as the challenges it faces. Panellists included Bonnie Dean, chief executive of the Bristol & Bath Science Park; Professor Martin Boddy from UWE; and Rick Chapman, high tech sector specialist for Invest Bristol & Bath.

Rick said: “Global tech businesses see the Bristol & Bath region as a highly attractive investment proposition, as it is home to a vibrant and diverse tech cluster with cutting-edge innovation at its heart. We have helped attract a series of major high tech businesses in recent months, including FTSE-listed JUST EAT, Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, Somo, the world’s largest independent mobile solutions company, and digital solutions company Kainos.” Read more here.


Is your business eligible for Broadband Vouchers?

The LEP Rural Economy Sector Group (RESG) has long been campaigning for better broadband for rural businesses. Companies within Bristol have been able to benefit from the national Super-Connected Cities Programme, but this has now been extended to five miles outside of the city boundary to include parts of North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset.

The RESG is now hoping to evidence how this scheme could help businesses across the whole of the West of England.  Businesses can complete the online checker here to see if they are already eligible.

If the Postcode Checker advises ‘not eligible’, the RESG are asking for companies to complete the brief online survey here, which will be used by the group to build a case for extending the scheme.  Please complete the survey before the end of September.



City of Bristol College joins with Ashley Community Housing on unemployment programme

City of Bristol College has joined up with Ashley Community Housing (ACH) to tackle unemployment in Bristol after being awarded £65,000 from the European Social Fund. The college will work with ACH to create a programme that offers basic language skills, to help learners with low linguistic abilities or people severely struggling to gain employment.

ACH has just been nominated in this year’s National Business Awards in the Social Enterprise of the Year category. The organisation provides housing for homeless people and gives them training to get into work. Read more here.


Knightstone Housing awarded employability chartermark

Knightstone Housing has been awarded an enhanced level Employability Chartermark for business by the WE LEP for its business strategy commitment to employability.

The Employability Chartermark is awarded by the LEP to businesses and education providers in recognition of their commitment to, investment in and delivery of work-readiness in young people. Knightstone has been particularly praised for its strong relationships with local education and training providers, and its promotion of work experience placements. Read more here.


‘Immersion’ workshop to address high-tech skills gap

The LEP Skills team have been holding ‘immersion’ workshops for local employers and education providers to help identify the skills gaps and shortages preventing growth in our key industry sectors: Advanced Engineering & Aerospace, Finance & Professional Services, Creative & Digital, and Low Carbon.

An immersion workshop for the high-tech sector is due to take place in November 2014. To find out more or get involved, email Nicky Williams.


How an Apprentice can solve your skills shortage

Over 6,000 16-24 year olds were employed in apprenticeship schemes in the West of England last year and national figures show that 96% of firms that take on an apprentice reported a benefit to their business.

The LEP is working with the National Apprenticeship Service and local training providers to encourage even more employers to boost their businesses with an apprentice. Apprenticeships are available to businesses of all sizes and from all sectors. Find out more and see how the LEP Skills team can help you here.


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