2022 so far: Invest in Gloucestershire showcases the county’s commercial strengths internationally
The Invest in Gloucestershire project has seen increased activity and an extremely productive year to date, having been on the international exposition circuit promoting the county’s many assets to small and medium sized businesses looking to expand their portfolio in the UK.
The project has focused on three of the county’s strongest and burgeoning sectors, Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing; Cyber and Agri-tech. Our team has made considerable in roads to attracting Foreign Direct Investment, supporting major infrastructure projects seeking investment and nurturing key assets in the county to form collaborative partnerships - highlighting niche sub sectors and the fantastic support available for businesses looking to accelerate their growth.
Phil Clement, Head of Inward Investment at GFirst LEP, joined our team in December and has quickly identified that our county is a serious international contender, with unique and globally impressive assets signposting Gloucestershire as a significant place to expand and establish a UK base for foreign investors.
Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing
Our team have recently published the county’s Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing proposition. This document showcases the strong green and digital innovation that is happening in the county, especially with battery and hydrogen powered aircraft. The rapid growth of ZeroAvia, Electroflight and Vertical Aerospace demonstrate that Gloucestershire and the South West have the talent, assets and infrastructure to enable these burgeoning technologies. The proposition was launched at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT 2022) and Farnborough International Air Show in July.
GFirst LEP and the Invest in Gloucestershire project joined industry giants such as Rolls Royce, Dyson and Raytheon in the Techno Zone at RIAT 2022. This year’s theme was ‘inspire’ and the STEM learning activation was visited by over 30,000 children, young adults and students. The zone provided a wealth of inspiring activities for our future generations to ignite their passions for science, maths, technology and engineering. The Invest in Gloucestershire team were able to chat to many of the children about the legacy of engineering in the county and the many pathways available to access these topics and industry partners in Gloucestershire.
Our team also got to meet the Red Arrows and astronaut Tim Peake who joined the Space Agency’s stand and caught a glimpse of Tom Cruise as he met the Red Arrows team. A very positive experience for the project and it was great to see so much innovation and passion happening in one place to inspire young people.
Straight off the back of RIAT 2022, our team headed down to the Farnborough International Air Show 2022 to be part of the West of England Aerospace Forum and South West Aerospace stand. The event is on a huge scale and the collaborative partnership with six other LEPs and local Authority partners made a compelling story for South West aerospace. A large map of the area was featured on the stand and highlighted all the major aerospace organisations located in the patch. This provided a major hook for businesses looking to expand into the existing cluster and eco-system.
Our team had a number of interesting engagements, met with some existing businesses already in the county and established a number of strong leads to follow up.
They were also witness to some cutting-edge technology including the impressive Vertical Aerospace’s VX4 electric aircraft. With speeds over 200mph, near silent when in flight, zero emissions and low cost per passenger mile, the VX4 is set to open up urban air mobility to a whole range of passengers and transform how we travel. The company, based in Bristol, have a site at Cotswold Airport and our team are looking to support the business in the county as they expand.
Looking to Cyber, our team were also extremely proud to see the launch of the Cyber High Potential Opportunity, a vital publication produced by the Department of International Trade (DIT) to drive awareness to the global business audience of the key sector and ever-increasing cluster established in Gloucestershire.
Whilst businesses are naturally attracted to the bright lights of London, Gloucestershire is home to GCHQ, The National Cyber Security Council and over 150 cyber centric businesses.
With the Golden Valley development pitching itself as the largest cyber campus outside of London, CyNam’s cyber community fuelling innovation, the CyberFirst’s schools programme and the quality commercial property assets available for SMEs including Hub 8 and The Forum, there are incredible opportunities for high growth cyber businesses in invest in Gloucestershire.
Our project team has jumped on to the cyber expo trail and attended the RSA Conference in San Francisco and Infosec in London.
Impressively, our team and DIT’s Technology Specialist, Chris Moore, were also hosted by the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel. A comprehensive programme was prepared by the Embassy which included a tour of the Cyber Innovation Centre and a presentation to cyber businesses based in Israel looking to expand into the European market. Our team are hoping to host a delegation to Gloucestershire later in the year with companies from Israel, US, France and Australia.
Gloucestershire is synonymous with agriculture. Its undulating green pastures have a long association with the industry and the county benefits from two of the country’s leading agricultural educational establishments, Hartpury University and Hartpury College and the Royal Agricultural University.
The Invest in Gloucestershire project alongside both universities have embraced the advancing Agri-tech sector. Where these establishments stand out from the other national innovation centres is with SME support and access to innovation for growing businesses.
Farm 491 in Cirencester and the new Agri-tech Innovation Centre and Techbox Park at Hartpury provide impressive facilities and business support. The Invest in Gloucestershire team have recently instigated the creation of the Gloucestershire Agri-tech Partnership which is represented by Hartpury and Farm 491 as well as Campden BRI, the CCRI and GFirst LEP. The group have already visited two industry expos including LAMMA Show at the NEC in May and the Intelligent Farming Summit in Barcelona in June. The group are currently finalising a memorandum of understanding and are seeking to support and attract SMEs into the county by pin pointing the Agri-tech specialisms in niche sub sectors.
The group have also opened a dialogue with CyNam in relation to Cyber in Agri-tech. The project has furthermore provided serious consultation for the proposed Innovation Village at the University Gate site in Cirencester. The vision for this site is to create a multipurpose Agri-tech themed innovation hub to include commercial space, learning facilities, a hotel and onsite campus for Agri-tech. This proposition was taken to the UKREiiF event in Leeds earlier in the year. This new event aims to rival internationally renowned MIPIM in Cannes and was heavily endorsed by government and the Department for International Trade. GFirst LEP attended as part of the Western Gateway stand and our team took the Innovation Village portfolio with them to speak to potential investors. This project is fast gaining traction and interest, with outline planning due to be submitted next year.
Looking to the future
It has been a busy few months for the Invest in Gloucestershire project which continues to go from strength to strength. Whilst Covid had brought many of the project’s planned activations to a halt, our team have hit the circuit with full force and armed with some great tools including the AEM proposition, Cyber HPO, Agri-tech proposition and the University Gate prospectus, plus dialogue around education. All three sectors benefit from the strong educational offering where businesses have access to over 330,000 graduates within a sixty-mile radius.
Our team are confident that the continuous hard work and event attendance selling the many assets Gloucestershire has to offer will place the county as a serious contender for establishment and expansion of foreign owned businesses and ultimately create quality high skilled jobs.
To find out more about Invest in Gloucestershire, please visit: www.investingloucestershire.com
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