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February 2016


Bristol and Bath named most productive digital tech cluster in UK
Tech Nation 2016 has revealed that companies in the UK’s digital and technology industry generated around £87bn for the UK’s economy between 2010 and 2014, with Bristol and Bath being the third largest economy (£8.2bn) and largest cluster in terms of productivity. more

Another report, Powering a Digital Economy 2015, had also named the Bristol and Bath area as the UK’s most important centre for the fast growing digital industry outside of London. Between 2010 and 2013 the number of digital companies setting up in the area increased by 65%. more

This follows on from JLL’s annual report which claimed that Bristol’s tech and creative sectors are having a massive impact on the commercial property market with around 20% of office space taken by high growth firms in the sector who are looking for a new generation of “trendy” offices. more

West of England University Enterprise Zone (UEZ) set to create 500 new jobs
Work has started on the new University Enterprise Zone based at UWE which will contain the current Bristol Robotics Laboratory and provide incubator space for businesses specialising in robotics, biosciences, biomedicine and other high tech areas.

The UEZ, one of the first of its kind in the country, is expected to create more than 500 new jobs and generate more than £50m for the local economy. The £16.5m project has been developed by UWE in collaboration with the West of England LEP and the University of Bristol. more

West of England granted £7m for Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs)
The West of England has been successful in its bid for ULEVs funding - all four authorities plan to convert 20 – 25% of their light vehicles to ULEVs, which will result in fuel bill savings and a reduction on harmful emissions. The funding will also be used to double the number of charging points and increase the number of registered ULEVs in the region to 5,000 by 2020. more


New Social Value award launched in the West of England
Social Enterprise Works, in partnership with the Social Value Business is launching a Social Value Quality Mark (SVQM) in the West of England. This will be the first of its kind in the UK.

Social value asks the question: If £1 is spent on the delivery of services, can that same £1 also produce a wider benefit to the community? more

Test Bed trial of self-management digital technology set to improve patient care in the West of England
The West of England Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) will be leading the way in NHS innovation as part of the “diabetes digital coach” test bed. It will link care workers and people with diabetes to the Internet of Things (IoT) using remote monitoring and coaching technology for better self-management.

The IoT test Bed is part of an integrated £40m, 3 year government programme in collaboration with Innovate UK. more

Bristol Is Open collaborates to create open solutions to urban challenges
Tokyo based NEC Corporation and Bristol Is Open have committed to a long term partnership to develop the world’s first open programmable city to support the creation of innovative new smart services for people, business and academia.

The partnership will pave the way for improvements to a wide range of services including traffic congestion waste management, entertainment and energy supply. more

Watch the South Bristol Link underbridge being built
Network Rail and Kier have produced a remarkable time lapse video showing the recent construction work for the South Bristol Link railway underbridge. The new bridge will enable the South Bristol Link to pass under the railway line between Bristol and Taunton. Watch the video.

North Somerset tourism businesses join forces to build on regions strengths
Representatives from around 30 tourism and leisure related businesses in North Somerset have welcomed the opportunity to work more closely to develop the area’s tourism offer after last year’s record visitor numbers revealed an encouraging upwards trend. more 

In further good news for West of England tourism, Folly Farm Centre has been awarded a gold certification by Green Tourism for its commitment to sustainability (more) and two other attractions, The Roman Baths and Pump Rooms and Brunel’s ss Great Britain, are finalists at the Visit England awards for excellence. more

West of England secures 2 places in Creative England Top 50
Two West of England companies, Anagram and Opposable Games, have been named in Creative England top 50 companies which celebrate businesses in the creative economy that have achieved commercial success from a bright idea. more

Parent company, Opposable VR, will host the Virtual Reality World Congress (VRWC) in Bristol in April and South West businesses are encouraged to come and experience some of the world’s most innovative VR technologies first hand. more

New creative hubs to support local entrepreneurs
The development of a creative hub in Weston-super-Mare which will offer flexible work space and support for creative entrepreneurs enabling micro businesses to collaborate and attract investment, has been given the go ahead. more

Plans are also underway for an innovation and digital campus in Bath’s Quays South area, providing affordable commercial units for the creative industry. more

MetroBus will encourage healthy lifestyles
Health professionals and scientists believe there’s a clear link between high quality public transport and healthier lifestyles. The University of Cambridge has found their city's guided busway has increased the number of journeys made by bike and is helping commuters lead healthier lives. MetroBus’ segregated busway is expected to have similar health benefits for Bristol residents. more

Bath Digital Festival
The Bath Digital Festival, sponsored by Invest Bristol and Bath, is a celebration of the region’s digital and creative sectors. The festival takes place this week and has already seen a plethora of bright ideas encouraging community engagement.

Students and school children took part in coding, animation and blogging workshops at Bath College, Bath:Hacked ran a weekend that challenged attendees to come up with new ‘open data-inspired’ concepts with community benefits and a 48 hour Minecraft event was held where people were invited to rebuild Bath in a virtual world. more


Apprenticeship Hub
The West of England LEP is supporting the Bath Chronicle & Bristol Post Apprenticeship awards in May. The awards celebrate the best and brightest apprentices as well as the companies who employ them. Employer categories for different sized companies are available for those wishing to showcase the benefits they have gained and demonstrate their commitment to apprenticeships. Closing date 4 March more

The West of England LEP will be launching our new Apprenticeship Hub West site to coincide with National Apprenticeship week (14 – 18 March) where you can find information for employers and individuals including local vacancies in our weekly bulletin.

Business volunteers needed to support schools careers and enterprise strategies
As part of the Careers Enterprise Company initiative to create powerful connections between local businesses and education providers, we are look for volunteers to use their business networks to support local schools in developing their careers strategies and employer engagement plans. If you think you can help and would like to find out more please the Enterprise Adviser Network pages on our website.

South West set for construction job boost
About 26,000 jobs could be created in the South West over the next five years, according to figures from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). Growth will be driven by a 14.2% expansion in infrastructure projects led by the Hinckley Point. To maximise the opportunities, CITB has joined forces with Go Construct, a web portal that provides information on construction career opportunities. more

Government commits to new school for South Gloucestershire
A new free special school in South Gloucestershire for 80 children aged 4 – 18 with complex communication difficulties has been approved by the Department for Education. The school will be part of the SGS Academy Trust and will mean the end of long commutes for dozens of children who currently have to travel to access appropriate provision. more


Bristol best place in UK to run your own business
UCL School of Management analysed broadband speed, the cost of central office space and the number and value of government funded Start Up Loans in the UKs most populated towns and cities to conclude that Bristol is the best place for an entrepreneur to start a business. more

West of England Growth Hub Launch Success
Since launching last month, the West of England Growth Hub has welcomed a wealth of support providers to the online network. The Growth Hub is the first port of call for businesses looking to grow and provides tailored search results and personalised recommendations based on individual business needs.

Bristol legal sector largest outside London
The professional services sector, one of the West of England LEP’s priority sector groups, has received encouraging news as property advisers CBRE name Bristol as the largest legal centre outside of London in terms of occupied office space. more

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