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June 2014


Bristol ranked 6th most important city for FDI

Bristol is now the sixth most attractive city for foreign direct investment (FDI), according to Ernst & Young’s 2014 UK Attractiveness Survey. The survey showed that Bristol attracted 12 investments in the city, putting it just behind Manchester with 15 projects and ahead of Birmingham’s 11 projects. The UK as a whole is now ranked the most attractive location in Europe for foreign investment. Read the full survey here.


SETsquared start-up goes stateside

One of SETsquared Bath’s companies has just returned from one of the world’s most prestigious accelerator programmes. Industrial Phycology has spent two weeks taking part in the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) eTeam programme. MIT is recognized as one of the top research universities in the world and only the most promising of start-ups from across the world are awarded places on the programme. Alumni founded companies include Intel, Qualcomm, Dropbox and Bose. Read Industrial Phycology’s report on their trip here.


£2.5 million up for grabs for West of England healthcare innovation businesses

SBRI Healthcare, an NHS England-funded initiative to develop innovative products and services that address un-met health needs, have launched a £2.5 million competition to support small business development. SBRI Healthcare are working in partnership with the West of England and Wessex Academic Health Science Networks on medicines adherence – one of the key areas of healthcare the competition will focus on. Businesses have until July 10th to submit their applications. Find out more here.


Bath launches new bike hire scheme

Bath’s new bike hire scheme has been officially launched this week. 100 bikes are now docked across nine rental locations including Bath Spa railway station, Bath Spa University, city centre locations and the Royal United Hospital. The scheme, delivered by nextbike, working with Bath & North East Somerset Council, is designed with visitors and students in mind, but local businesses are also being encourage to give it a try. Read more.


North Somerset Business Awards open for entry

Business can now enter the North Somerset Business Awards. There are 13 categories to enter and the winners will be revealed at a dinner hosted by entrepreneur Michelle Mone OBE. The West of England LEP is on the judging panel. Find out more and enter here.


Help shape our rural funding priorities

There’s still time to have your say on the shape of the future rural LEADER programme for the West of England. The consultation events focusing on Tourism, Heritage, Rural services, Farming, Forestry and Micro Businesses all have some spaces left and an online consultation is now available. Find out more here.




Bristol 2015 unveils £2 million funding plans

Bristol 2015, the newly formed company set up to support Bristol’s year as European Green Capital 2015, has announced the first of three funding programmes, worth £2 million.

The £250k Bristol Neighbourhood Partnerships Fund will offer grants of £10,000 to neighbourhoods across the city, to help them organise sustainable projects and events. Next month, the Small Grants Fund will be launched, offering awards to citywide or multi-neighbourhood projects. In August, a £1.5m fund will be released, with projects able to bid for grants of between £25,000-£50,000. Find out more here.


New cross-airfield link road opened at J21EA

A milestone in the development of the new Weston Villages within the J21 Enterprise Area was reached last week with the opening of the new cross-airfield link road.

The new road will help to ensure vital infrastructure is in place ahead of new housing. North Somerset Council is working with the Homes and Communities Agency to secure funding for the next stage of the link road’s construction, which will then complete the link-up with the Winterstoke Road roundabout, providing access for the employment sites and neighbouring new villages.

£15 million has already been invested over the last year in the ‘Weston Package’ of transport improvements and other developments, such as the new North Somerset Enterprise & Technology College. Read more.


Canada’s Deputy High Commissioner visits South Glos

Alan Kessel, the Deputy High Commissioner for the Canadian High Commission, has been touring South Gloucestershire, visiting some of the districts major employment and education hubs.

Mr Kessel and his delegation met with South Glos Council chairman, Cllr Ian Boulton, and took a tour that included Airbus in Filton, GKN Aerospace, the National Composites Centre, Bristol & Bath Science Park and the Bristol Law School at UWE Bristol’s Frenchay campus. Read more about the visit here.


Construction begins on £11.5m Arena bridge

The long-awaited Bristol Arena is edging ever closer, after construction work on the bridge connecting it to the surrounding area has begun with a turf-cutting ceremony. The £11.5 million project commissioned by the Homes and Communities Agency will see a new two-lane bridge installed over the River Avon, improving links with the train station and rest of the city. The bridge, due to be completed in Autumn 2015, will also be enhanced by creating a green corridor using trees and other climbing plants. Read more here.




Double success for Marshfield Bakery

Congratulations to Marshfield Bakery, who is celebrating two recent successes. The company has just been named as one of Insider Media’s Top 500 Companies, and MD Chris Smith has this week been awarded Institute of Directors SW Director of the Year.

In the last two years, Marshfield has undergone a major transformation and the results are equally dramatic: sales figures almost tripled, staff numbers doubled, with the order book projected to grow some £5m over the next four years, helped by the development of a sustainable export market. Read more here.


Bristol spearheads use of pioneering cycle safety technology

Bus operator First West of England is to start test driving state-of-the-art cycle safety technology on a number of its buses. The CycleEye technology has been developed by Bristol engineering firm, Fusion Processing Ltd, to reduce the growing number of cyclist collisions and casualties. It uses radar and camera sensors and gives an audible alert to the drivers cab when a cyclist is in their blind spot.

Fusion, founded in 2012, is based in Bristol’s Engine Shed and has been working with the WE LEP to apply for funding from the West of England Growth Fund. Find out more about Fusion here.


£3 million new building at Thatchers opened by Royalty

Thatchers has opened its new £3 million Jubilee Building with an event attended by the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

The new facility, at the company’s headquarters on Myrtle Farm, Sandford, in North Somerset, has been developed by the cider-maker to accommodate the growing demand for its products in the UK and overseas. The new space will mean 450 kegs an hour can be filled with draught cider. Read more here.


National Composites Centre carrying out large scale composites structure study

Industry contributors are wanted to scope the demand for a UK-based large composites structures centre, as part of a study for the Government’s Department of Business, Innovation & Skills.

The National Composites Centre in South Glos is carrying out the study in conjunction with the University of Southampton, Solent LEP and partners, to investigate the needs for a centre to research and develop the use of advanced materials in the manufacture of large structures for sectors such as maritime, oil and gas construction. The study is taking place from now until July. Find out more here.




LEP offers drop-in clinics & help to businesses awarded West of England Growth Fund cash

Nearly 300 companies have been successful in applying for funding from the WE LEP’s West of England Growth Fund, and they are now being offered help from the LEP’s funding team to ensure they spend the money before the opportunity to claim from the pot expires on March 31st 2015.

Drop-in sessions will be taking place between 9am-4pm as follows: Bristol & Bath Science Park, 1st, 11th & 22nd July; CoWorking Bath – the Guild, 3rd, 14th & 23rd July; the Hive, Weston-super-Mare, 7th, 18th & 24th July. The team are always available for appointments in Engine Shed, Bristol too. Email the team to find out more or call 0117 903 6207.


£59k award for Zero Carbon Hub in North Somerset

Renewable energy specialists Solarsense have been awarded a grant of £59,000 to support the development of a Zero Carbon Hub and Training Centre.

The grant from the WE LEP’s West of England Growth Fund, will be matched by private funding to make the build at the company’s headquarters in Backwell possible. Designs are currently being developed by local architects and construction specialists, with the project due for completion by the end of the year. Find out more about Solarsense here.




China’s Huawei plans £125m R&D centre in Bristol

Huawei, the Chinese telecoms giant, has announced it is planning to open a £125 million research and development base in Bristol as part of its UK Innovation Programme.

Initially Huawei will recruit 30 R&D staff and have a focus on researching ICT chips, software and analog chip technology of the future. The move is thought to be the biggest single Chinese investment in Bristol and has been welcomed by Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne. Read more on the story from Bristol Business News.


Invest Bristol & Bath spearheads jobs drive for Chinese tech giant

Invest Bristol & Bath is driving forward recruitment in the wider tech sector for Huawei, after it revealed plans to open an R&D centre in Bristol.

The move comes after Invest Bristol & Bath, the inward investment agency for the region and part of the WE LEP,  travelled to China last year on a trade missions to showcase the strengths of the region to Huawei. The company is the latest is a series of global businesses Invest Bristol & Bath has helped attract to the region. Read more about IBB here


Call for Sector Specialists to champion the West of England

Four Sector Specialists are being sought by Invest Bristol & Bath, to help them in their role of promoting the region in the UK and overseas to potential investors.

The Sector Specialists are being recruited to work with IBB in the four priority sectors of Creative & Digital, Aerospace & Advanced Engineering, High Tech and Low Carbon.

The current contract with existing sector specialists has now come to an end and this new contract will run until April 2015. Applications should be submitted by June 30th. Contact Ben Shorrock to find out more.




Have your say on Portishead railway station

A consultation on potential locations for Portishead railway station has now started. Three locations are being considered and people have until July 28th to give their views.

Re-opening the Portishead line is part of the MetroWest Phase 1 project, which is being taken forward by the four West of England councils.

Two exhibitions are being held at Portishead Methodist Church on June 24th from 2pm-6.30pm and June 28th from 10am-2pm. The proposals can also be viewed online here.


Bath seeking views on transport strategy

Bath & North East Somerset Council is asking local people to put forward their views on a new draft transport strategy for the city.

‘Getting around Bath’ was commissioned by the council in April 2013 and looks at reducing congestion and allowing people to move around more easily to support the long-term economic strategy  for the area.

Key proposals include a walking/cycling strategy to make Bath the UK’s most walkable city, better management of HGVs and the continued expansion of the Park and Ride sites. Find out more here.




YMCA giving new lease of life to old Police Headquarters

The old police headquarters on Bridewell Street in central Bristol are to be converted by the Bristol YMCA. They plan to offer accommodation for backpackers and groups, which will be used to fund short-term stays for young people at risk of homelessness.

The YMCA is working with the Creative Youth Network to bring the whole of the Bridewell Island site back into viable use, as a vibrant centre focused on inspiring and supporting young people. The project has been supported by a number of funders, including the WE LEP’s Growth Fund, and further funding is being sought to complete the refurbishment. Find out more by emailing Bristol YMCA or follow them on Twitter @bristolymca.


Teens receive Queens Award for volunteering

Three teenagers from Creative Youth Network were invited to Buckingham Palace on June 3rd to receive the equivalent of an MBE.

Nyran grey, Molly Perryman and Caroline Parry received the Queens Award for Voluntary Service, which is the highest award given to volunteer groups. The award was in recognition for their services to the youth volunteering group, Youth for Youth, over the last eight years, as well as the services and support from the group.

Youth for Youth was set up in 2007 by two young people who wanted to put on music nights for their friends. This has grown into a group organising monthly gig nights, arts festivals, fundraising and more. Find out more here.


Think Local – Bristol & Bath Social Enterprise Network event

Housing associations, public sector organisations and their supply chain are increasingly using their contracts to benefit the communities they serve.

Bristol & Bath Social Enterprise Network, with support from Bath & North East Somerset Council, are offering a half day event on July 11th, for large and small businesses, public sector procurement staff and social enterprises to come along and hear from both buyers and suppliers. Book your free place here.




Paid interns bringing growth to creative businesses

The West of England is hoping to have the largest consortium in the UK to deliver a creative employment programme, when a second round of funding from the Creative Employment Programme grant scheme is announced.

The programme aims to provide long-term paid opportunities for young people to kick start their career. £198,000 was awarded to the consortium in the first round in 2013 and the second round is due to be announced any day.


One local business that has seen the benefits is PAPER Arts, set up by 28 year old architecture graduate Simone Kidner.

Her brand new, three-storey flagship store on Merchant Street, in Bristol city centre, has an independent art shop promoting over 100 artists’s work. There’s also a gallery and studio space and Simone is aiming to set up an advice centre and training space for young people to learn how to make money from their creative talents.

To date, PAPER Arts has had five interns come through the creative employment programme and Simone is hoping to take on another six or seven.

“We teach young, unemployed 18-24 year olds a range of job roles to help them become more employable in the future,” says Simone.

“Working with the LEP and being a part of the Creative Employment Programme has enabled us to grow really quickly."

Paper Arts is open 10am-6pm seven days a week. Find out more on their Facebook page.


The West of England consortium is led by the Creative Skills Hub in the WE LEP, working in close partnership with Bristol City Council, Bath & North East Somerset Council, the Department for Work & Pensions, UWE Bristol, Business West and local organisations. Email Nicky Williams to find out more. The Creative Employment Programme is a £15 million grant fund delivered by Creative & Cultural Skills

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