Prof Steve West, the chair of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), met with the prime minister to discuss the role of LEPs in the UK’s industrial strategy.

The chairs of all 38 LEPs (shown above) met at Downing St for the first time last week. The Council of Local Enterprise Partnership Chairs was announced in the 2017 Industrial Strategy White Paper as a new forum for LEP business leaders to help shape national policy decisions and ensure closer cooperation with the Government on Industrial Strategy objectives which are strongly based around digital technology.

“This was a great opportunity to sit down with the Prime Minister to identify how we as LEPs can support Government,” said Prof West, who also vice chancellor and chief executive of the University of the West of England. “Working with the Mayor, Tim Bowles and the West of England Combined Authority, we have started discussions with Government on developing a Local Industrial Strategy for the West of England. This is an important opportunity for the region and we will work closely with Government to deliver our ambitions for clean and inclusive economic growth.”

The LEP covers Bristol, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset and is the only LEP in the country to have a distinct focus on aerospace and advanced engineering, high tech, and digital and creative industries. As a result, it has been the number one LEP since the organisations were formed.

Talks focussed on where LEPs carry maximum impact, delivering the objectives of the Modern Industrial Strategy in local areas, and investing in the skills people and businesses need. The region has been shown to be the most productive tech cluster in the country.

“Local Enterprise Partnerships play a vital role in supporting businesses and innovation across England. That’s why our Modern Industrial Strategy is clear that they must continue to play a crucial role in our plans to deliver further growth in local economies,” said Prime Minister Theresa May. “This first meeting of the Council marks a milestone in this partnership. By working even more closely together, we will continue to maximise our efforts in creating jobs, growth and investment right across the country, delivering long-term, meaningful results for local communities.”

The High Tech Sector Group and High Tech Bristol and Bath (HBB) are integral parts of the LEP working with the Industrial Strategy, covering the wide range of high tech activities in the region.