Call for government investment to strengthen advanced engineering and digital innovation industries in South West England and South East Wales 

A consortium of major businesses, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and higher education institutions has found that the South West England and South East Wales region can lead the UK and compete with the world in the areas of advanced engineering and digital innovation, and has called for targeted government investment to drive innovation in these areas.

The UK government invited key organisations (including Airbus, the Met Office, Rolls Royce, IQE, CSC and Johnson Matthey), universities and LEPs in the region to collate the South West England and South East Wales Science and Innovation Audit (SWW-SIA).

The audit identified that the region is home to the largest aerospace sector in the UK and pioneering automotive, nuclear, marine and marine renewables and microelectronics industries.

South West England and South East Wales is also synonymous with digital innovation: home to the largest silicon design cluster outside of the USA; more climate expertise than any other area worldwide; global powerhouse microelectronics industry; a national exemplar for smart cities.

The consortium now calls on the UK government to make a series of strategic investments to better integrate the scientific and industrial strengths of the region. In the immediate-term, the report underlines investment in the Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult, and recommended fully funding the proposed Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS), and Composites Excellence – with National Composites Materials Centre.

The SIA process has provided real impetus for cohesive working across the region, which offers great benefits to be realised by systematic and sustained investment by Government in partnership with the private sector.

The UK government has thanked the SWW-SIA consortium for their submission and is expected to make an announcement about its Industrial Strategy in the upcoming Autumn Statement. 

Notes for editors

The South West England and South East Wales Science and Innovation Audit (SWW–SIA) has been undertaken by a consortium that brings together key organisations and businesses from South West England (Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, Gloucestershire, Heart of the South West, Swindon and Wiltshire, and West of England LEPs) and South East Wales. The SWW region has a population of 6.2m people and has 14 research institutions, 15 Higher Education Institutions, 27 Further Education Colleges, and over 35 science parks and innovation centres.

The creation of the Compound Semiconductor (CS) Applications Catapult was announced in January 2016 by then Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.  The Catapults are a network of world-leading centres designed to transform the UK’s capability for innovation in specific areas and drive economic growth.  The new CS Applications Catapult will be based in Wales and receive £10 million a year of government support up to 2021, complimenting an existing £100M of investment in the Institute for Compound Semiconductors at Cardiff University, and The Compound Semiconductor Centre, a joint Venture between Cardiff University and IQE Plc.  Compound semiconductors are at the heart of many devices we use today, from smart phones to tablets and satellite communication systems. They are central to development of the 5G network, new high-efficiency lighting, power electronics for the next generation of electric vehicles and new imaging techniques for a variety of uses from security to health diagnostics. The global market for compound semiconductors is forecast to reach £125 billion by 2020.

Read the full SWW-SIA report, summary and annexes