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November 2014


Vince Cable unveils National Composites Centre (NCC)

A £28m expansion to the NCC, a world- leading research and technology hub owned by the University of Bristol, has been officially opened by Business Secretary Vince Cable.The major project has seen the NCC double in size, allowing much greater capacity to develop composite technology for the aerospace, automotive, renewable energy and rail sectors. Read more here.

Whilst in the region Mr Cable took the time to pop into one of the companies benefiting from the West of England Growth Fund. Footdown in Bath received funding to work in collaboration with the University of Bath to research and produce a High Performance Workplace (HPW) diagnostic tool which assesses an organisation against three benchmarks; culture, performance and engagement. Read more here.

Economic boost for region as Hinkley Point approved by European commission

Hinkley Point, in Somerset, could create around 25,000 jobs across the region and once completed in 2023 will generate 7% of the UK’s electricity. James Durie of Business West said “Business in our region will be a vital part of the supply chain opportunities on offer for this project and wide and we are committed to ensuring that local business and our wider community are positively impacted”. Read more here.

Following the announcement a new landmark office building, Enterprise House, is planned at Weston Gateway Business Park, within the J21 Enterprise Area, to be ready for investment in the nuclear industry by 2015. Read more here.

The University of Bristol will host a new internationally recognised hub for nuclear energy research and education thanks to funding of £2.4m from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), alongside the University’s own investment of over £5.3m. Read more here.

Bath and Bristol in UK’s top three ‘positive investing’ hotspots

Bath and Bristol were ranked 2nd and 3rd behind Oxford in the latest report into positive investing by Ethex, the not for profit organisation that advises investors on ways their money can help good causes, confirming the region is leading the trend towards local investment in positive social and environmental change. Read more here.

West of England joint retail initiative to promote investment opportunities

Bath and Bristol’s biggest shopping centres and stores, including Cabot Circus, Cribbs Causeway, the Southgate Centre, John Lewis and Harvey Nichols, travelled to Westminster to promote the regions retail offer to a wider audience with the aim of attracting more shops. The WE LEP was responsible for bringing together the group, usually competitors, to work together with a joined up message – “It’s a great place to do business”. Read more here.

Jobs boost as Invest Bristol and Bath on track to hit targets

Inward investment agency Invest Bristol & Bath are on track to hit their target of helping to create 1,380 jobs over two years. Among its successes have been Somo, the worlds’ largest independent mobile solutions company, Huawei and Just Eat. The agency works closely with UKTI and the private sector, and will also be using Bristol’s 2015 European Green Capital credentials, to help attract low carbon and green tech investors. Read more here.

Meanwhile the value of tourism in Bristol reaches an all – time high. Read more here.

Infrastructure investment

Investment in the West of England is booming as a number of exciting regeneration projects are revealed and property consultancy JLL report that demand for Bristol’s out of town office market is on course to achieve the highest take up level for 13 years.

Plans include creative commercial space Paintworks and Bath Road studios as well as the redevelopment of underused sites like the former General hospital in Bedminster.

Tourism is being supported as the Heritage Lottery Fund is looking to sustain the Roman Baths and Clevedon Pier and the Arts Council has pledged money to support St George’s, the iconic Bristol music venue.

In the education sector, South Gloucestershire has the green light for UWE’s planned £50m state of the art Faculty of Business and Law and a bid for funding has been placed to redevelop the Winter Gardens into an education centre for Weston Super Mare.

Ambitious proposals have been agreed in the retail industry - The Mall at Cribbs Causeway has submitted significant expansion plans and Wapping Wharf in Bristol is set to become the cities first waterside independent retail destination.

On a larger scale, details of the planned transformation of Filton Airfield have been revealed,  North Somerset are developing a new vision for Weston super Mare and George Ferguson has announced a shortlist of five experienced design teams for the 12,000 capacity Bristol Arena.



Vice Chancellor of University of the West of England had been announced as new Chair of CBI South West

Steve West will support CBI members in the region representing the area’s business leaders on key policy and regulatory issues. Read more here.

Funding available to boost low carbon heating

Homes and businesses in the West of England could soon benefit from low carbon heating technologies such as energy from waste and recovered industrial heat through the Government’s Heat Networks Delivery Unit (HNDU). Local authorities have been able to bid for funding to develop local technologies such as a network from heat captured via the treatment of waste at the SITA Severnside Energy Recovery Centre. Read more here.   

Bristol City Council has launched Warm Up Bristol, a new four-year initiative, designed to make Bristol more sustainable by establishing Bristol’s own energy company. Read more here

Bath & North East Somerset are offering subsidies for local businesses to become Green Deal accredited and attend sustainable construction courses as part of their Energy at Home scheme designed to help local residents carry out energy saving improvements to their home. Read more here.

Major Road investment for South West set to support regional economic growth

The Highways Agency has revealed a £106m investment in road improvements across the South West. There are two pinch point schemes planned for the M5 at J16 South Gloucestershire and J17 near Bristol to ease Cribbs Causeway congestion. Read more here.

The announcement follows news that North Somerset Council’s £3.5million Portbury scheme to improve congestion has won the Congestion Reduction Scheme of the Year category at the national Highways Magazine Excellence Awards 2014. Read more here.

Continued growth at Bristol Airport

EasyJet, Bristol’s largest airline, have announced plans for four new routes from Bristol to Lanzarote, Catania, Porto and Gibraltar from summer 2015.  Aer Lingus has also released details of its latest transatlantic strategy, allowing Bristol based passengers to fast track their journey to the United States through Dublin. Read more here.

Clifton Suspension Bridge is 150years old

One of Britain’s greatest engineering feats and Bristol’s most iconic landmark, the Clifton Suspensions Bridge, celebrates its 150th anniversary. To commemorate, the bridges Trustees have announced details of a series of events beginning in December, including a firework display from the Bridge itself and a re-enactment of the opening celebrations 150 years ago. Read more here.

Festival of Economics 2014

The third Festival of Economics will take place in November – the Festival aims to provoke wider learning and debate about economics and this year topics include; the benefits of a more local economy, whether robots will take all the jobs in the future and what will make the housing market work for all. View the full programme here.

M Shed welcomes the President

As part of a state visit to the UK, the President of the Republic of Singapore was welcomed to Bristol by the Mayor, George Ferguson.  The tour covered the regeneration of Bristol’s harbour side area with the M Shed‘s cranes lowered in his honour. Read more here.



Bath and Bristol shine at the Sparkies

Some of Bath and Bristol’s most innovative businesses are celebrating after winning at the Sparkies, the region’s tech sector awards night, which showcases the achievements of digital companies and entrepreneurs. The event emphasised the West of England’s growing role as one of the Uk’s most innovative regions. View the full list of winners here.

Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise zone attracts new tenants

Devon based marketing communications firm, The Oxygen Agency, has become one of the latest creative businesses to open an office in Bristol’s Enterprise Zone. Furthermore, HAB housing, the innovative housing developer set up by Kevin McCloud, is moving its headquarters to the Enterprise Zone and PWC have also confirmed their move.

This follows on the back of Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announcement that the Government’s 24 enterprise zones have created 12,530 jobs and attracted 434 new business with Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise zone being one of the biggest success stories. Read more here.

£1.25m investment puts Friska on national map

Bristol based healthy food chain Friska has secured an investment of £1.25m towards its long term goal of becoming a national chain with new sites in Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester. Read more here.

MPs given advice on green car manufacturing

University of Bath’s academics have advised MPs on how UK manufacturing can capitalise on Low Carbon Vehicles (LCVs). Dr Tomlinson, an expert on industrial policy, believes that the adoption of LCVs provides new opportunities as the UK holds a competitive advantage in certain technology specialisms including batteries, motors and power electronics.  Read more here.

Weston Super Mare firms secures £8m contract

Regency Purchasing Group has secured an £8m contract with one of the country’s premier golf service providers.  The Weston firm is now supplying over 400 UK golf clubs after being awarded the contract by golf purchasing company, Material Matters. Read more here.



UK Futures Programme - £2m investment for retail and hospitality skills

As part of the UK Futures Programme the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have launched a new competition aimed at improving business performance in the retail and hospitality industries and supporting employers who would benefit from progressing and retaining their workforce. Up to £250,000 is available for successful proposals. Find out more here.  

A bright future for the digital youth - Bath Digital FestivalSome of the top names from the UK Digital and Creative industries shared their expertise on how to enter the sector at the Bath Digital Festival which offered 10 days of digital activity. The events were aimed at people aspiring to work or develop a career in the sector as well as businesses already operating within it. Find out more here.


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