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Build and Innovate: Swindon and Wiltshire LEP secures £9.7m to boost the local economy

Funding will develop new projects that will bring public and private sector investment over the next two years.
By Tim Burghes,

The Swindon & Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership has bid successfully for £9.7m from the Getting Building Fund (GBF) for a wide-ranging package of projects that will deliver a much-needed boost to the local economy.  GBF funds will deliver key science and innovation projects in the cyber, life sciences, environmental and digital technologies sectors.  

These are new projects that will bring public and private sector investment over the next two years, at a critical time for the region as it looks to recover from the impacts of Covid-19.  The three projects bring together academic research with industry expertise to drive growth and jobs in the region and build the UK’s knowledge and resilience in these key sectors of the economy. 

Business Cyber Centre (£3.7m): A centre of excellence to help close the cyber skills gap driving growth through an academy, employment hub and a cyber response team.  The Centre will facilitate secure operations across a flexible workforce by opening up remote working employment opportunities. The Business Cyber Centre will level-up the UK Cyber presence as a rural hub for businesses. 

Porton Science Park Phase 2 (£2m): Developed in partnership with Public Health England (PHE) and Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) this 3500m2 research and innovation centre will provide meeting and conferencing space, workspace, laboratory bench space all linked to the existing Porton campus. 

Carriage Works, Swindon (£4m): The revitalisation of these Grade-II listed buildings secures a sustainable future for this key heritage asset.  With high-speed fibre connectivity, this dynamic education and employment environment will attract high tech incoming businesses to support Swindon's ambition to compete at the forefront of digital innovation, using technology for positive change.

Paul Moorby OBE, Chair of Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership commented: “This is very good news for Swindon and Wiltshire and enables us to deliver new, essential projects for our local economy.  The projects demonstrate the strong partnership across business and the public sector to restart growth in our area” 

Paddy Bradley, Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership CEO said of the investment: 

“The three projects are the first to be funded from our recent local industrial strategy. We believe we live in an incredibly innovative region and this funding will help unlock some of our potential for growth.  This represents a huge opportunity in the life sciences, advancement of the cyber sector and sustainable innovation across Swindon and Wiltshire.”  

Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government Simon Clarke MP said:

“We want to build back better to fuel a green economic recovery across the country by investing in infrastructure, creating jobs and building the homes people need  That is why, we are investing £900 million in shovel-ready projects through our Getting Building Fund, including £9.7m in the Swindon and Wiltshire LEP. This funding will unlock homes, create new jobs and deliver investment in commercial and green spaces and a much-needed boost to the local economy.” 

Chair of the LEP Network, Mark Bretton said: 

“As business led partnerships with a ready-made pipeline of projects, LEPs responded swiftly to the Prime Minister’s call for infrastructure projects with more available when Government is ready.   

“LEPs ‘can do’ business attitude has created a proven track record of complex delivery, landing projects at scale, on time and to budget.  The foundations they are building for local recovery in their Five Point Plan will underpin our national recovery”.  

Philip Whitehead, Leader of Wiltshire Council, said: “We are delighted the Business Cyber Centre and the second phase of the Porton Science Park have received this major investment which will bring more high-skilled jobs to the area and provide a real boost to Wiltshire’s economy. It builds on Wiltshire’s success at being at the forefront of developing cutting edge technology and ground-breaking research into health and life sciences.” 

Councillor Dale Heenan, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for the Town Centre, Heritage and Culture, said: "I am delighted that Swindon will receive £4m for phase two of the redevelopment of the Carriage Works. This is one of Swindon’s important Grade II listed heritage buildings, near the train station, and its regeneration is one of the quiet successes for our town centre.

 “Last year saw the opening of the WorkShed as a home for start-ups and innovation companies, and in two months’ time the Royal Agricultural Institute’s Cultural Heritage Institute officially launches its courses at the Carriage Works.

 This £4m funding will mean that the Carriage Works will double in size by the end of 2021, and we already have an interested complementary user lined up to create jobs and other opportunities. Coronavirus has created many difficulties over the past few months, but this Council is committed to investing in Swindon’s past, and the Carriage Works will be our engine to ensure its future is bright.”

The announcement has been confirmed by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.  The funding leverages £10.18m of other public and private funding and will deliver 745 new jobs, safeguard a further 180 and train 1735 learners in digital skills. 

For further information please contact [email protected]

For more information on the Swindon and Wiltshire LEP and its industrial strategy visit www.swlep.co.uk