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Home » Heart Of The South West LEP Looks Back On A Year Of Growth

Heart Of The South West LEP Looks Back On A Year Of Growth

The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has looked over its achievements and commitments for the past year. Since January it has continued to work with stakeholders to provide funding and support for local businesses, skills, and job creation.

To date the LEP has created over 7,800 new jobs, helped over 18,000 businesses to grow, and connected over 9,500 homes and businesses to superfast broadband. Major business support projects this year included the launch of the British Business Bank’s £200 million South West Investment Fund and the new Angel Investor Programme, set to drive economic growth by identifying, educating, and supporting new investors.

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Paul Coles, chief executive of South West Business Council and Board member of the Heart of the South West LEP, said: “The Heart of the South West LEP has been instrumental in supporting local businesses over the past year. Access to finance and free support is particularly important for our SMEs, who continue to face economic uncertainty and challenges around supply chains, talent, net zero and digitalisation.”

The Digital Leadership for SMEs training programme, led by Devon County Council with support from the LEP, launched in June to help small businesses enhance their digital capabilities. The LEP also announced that it would be committing a further £1.3m into developing the digital economy, working closely with Connecting Devon & Somerset to support the rollout of superfast broadband to hard-to-reach communities.

Significant science and innovation projects were secured this year. The University of Plymouth Cyber Resilience of Offshore Wind Networks (CROWN) project, supported by a £650,000 grant from the LEP, which will incorporate a purpose-built lab space to identify potential vulnerabilities in wind turbines.

Professor Judith Petts, vice-chancellor of the University of Plymouth and board member of the Heart of the South West LEP, said: “The LEP’s support has been crucial in advancing innovation in the region where national leading facilities exist. Projects like CROWN showcase the LEP’s commitment to innovation, which aligns with our vision to address real- world challenges through cutting-edge solutions.”

Plymouth Science Park secured £507,000 for a state-of-the-art additive manufacturing facility, expanding the Park’s offer to additive manufacturing and engineering companies. In addition, the opening of the Marsh Barton Railway was underpinned by a £4.4m investment from the Growth Deal fund.

Looking ahead, the LEP said it is working to deliver a smooth and orderly transition of LEP functions to Local Authorities at the end of March, with key developments expected to be announced at the end of January. Funding has been secured to continue the Heart of the South West Growth Hub service for until March 2025.

Karl Tucker, Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, said: “We are proud to play a pivotal role in driving economic growth, fostering innovation, and creating positive social impact. Our focus now is on a smooth transition of the core LEP functions to the Local Authorities in April, whilst ensuring that our businesses continue to be championed, and have their voices heard in the future of economic delivery.”

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