Bristol and Bath on map

A Local Growth Deal awarded to the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership will mean £86.2 million will be invested in the Bristol and Bath area starting in 2015. The Growth Deal should help create up to 5,000 jobs, and generate up to £180 million in public and private investment.

The £86.2 million will be spent on infrastructure investment such as high-speed broadband projects, new education centres and improved transport connections, as well as providing help for technology industries such as robotics, marine energy and tech incubators. There will also be more spent on supporting small and medium businesses in the region.

The Growth Deal fund is designed to redress the balance between London and the rest of the country. While visiting Bristol this week, Business Minister Vince Cable said there would also be more funding to follow. He explained: “What we are trying to do is to treat the regions like grown ups and to give them the opportunity to make their own decisions.

“The aim is even up the playing field rather than letting London and the South East continue to dominate the economy.

“Bristol is one of the most dynamic cities in the country and its economy is growing at a faster pace than the national economy”

 

“Bristol is one of the eight major cities in the UK but it is a different case to the others. It is one of the most dynamic cities in the country and its economy is growing at a faster pace than the national economy.

So, where’s the money being spent?

The £86.2 million is being invested in the following areas:

digimakers_nov_2013_04Bristol Robotics Lab and Bristol Institute of technology (£4.5m)
£4.5milion has been awarded to help Bristol become a world-class leader in robotics, autonomous systems, bio-sensing and bio-technology, bio-medical and related high-tech fields.

The money will be spent on essential startup and grow-on space for technology and knowledge-based businesses in robotics such as the Bristol Institute of Technology and Bristol Robotics Lab.

 

Broadband – Terabit West (£15m)
In a broadband test-bed that will be a world first, a closed loop of very fast next-generation broadband (both fixed and wireless) will be made available to companies across Bristol and Bath to allow them to test out new technologies. The Terabit West project should help the region’s companies pioneer the development of hardware and software technologies for future communication and cloud networking.

Colin Skellett, Chairman of the West of England LEP, said: “The Terabit scheme will see Bristol become one of the most connected cities in the UK.”

“The Terabit scheme will see Bristol become one of the most connected cities in the UK”

 

He added, “This is exactly the kind of thing that businesses want, it is all about having the ability to move large amounts of data. We are moving in the right direction in Bristol but we could always be doing a lot more. The key is to keep moving forward.”

Business support (£400k)
£400,000 is to be used to help centralise the support already existing from business organisations and universities for small and medium-sized business in the area into a one-stop shop. It will include advice on getting loans and grants, and offer targeted training for skills gaps and advice on exporting goods.

Composite bridge (£2m)
A prototype structure composite footbridge (designed drawing on expertise from the National Composites Centre in Bristol) will be built over the A4174 Bristol ring road to create a safer cycle route at Bromley Heath. If the bridge design is a success there are hopes it will dramatically change the way footbridges are designed in the future.

bristol-science-parkElectricity generation – Tidal blade test centre (£1m)
A facility to test tidal blades for electricity generation from sea tides has been given £1 million for composite test facilities, reliability/materials studies and manufacturing processes. Located at the Bristol and Bath Science Park (pictured right) the site will be the first in the UK, providing shared facilities for collaboration, development, testing and accreditation for new tidal blade models.

National Composite Centre (NCC) funding and partnership manager Graham Harrison said: “The NCC can provide industrial-scale innovation in areas like materials, design and simulation, testing and reliability analysis. Most importantly we are very keen to help companies optimise their manufacturing processes to reduce production costs and improve economies of scale.”

Further education (£32m)
£32 million of investment has been earmarked for new learning opportunities, and ensuring growing priority sectors and industries have the workforce skills they need, including in nuclear technology, construction and environmental technology, advanced engineering and the use of composites, and legal and professional services.

There will be a building programme for creating and extending various educational centres, including:

  • a new Future Technology Centre at Weston College
  • an extension to the Advanced Engineering Centre at City of Bristol College
  • a new West of England Law and Professional Services Academy in Weston
  • a new Construction Centre for bath and North east Somerset
  • a new Business Enterprise Training Centre

“The skills agenda is paramount and we desperately need a future technologies centre to meet industry demands”

 

Dr Paul Phillips OBE, Principal of Weston College said of the investment: “The skills agenda is paramount and we desperately need a future technologies centre to meet industry demands.”

Rail services – Metrowest (£11.7m)
This money adds to the £44.9million investment already agreed to deliver half hourly cross-Bristol rail services, including reopening the Portishead and Henbury rail lines. Metrowest will link up the major growth area at Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise and the five Enterprise Areas across the West of England region.

Sustainable transport (£20m)
As most car journeys in the West of England are 5 miles, it is hoped that this £20 million investment in schemes such as new bus lanes and cycling routes will get people embracing more ecologically friendly transport solutions and cut congestion.

Via: West of England LEP and Bristol Post

Jamie Middleton