Innovation UK > News > Innovation UK Vol4-1 > Bristol, Bath and the West of England

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Bristol, Bath and the West of England

From Airbus A380 wings to the smallest of silicon processors, the West of England is one of the UK's premier locations for technology and innovation companies

Made up of Bristol and Bath together with Weston-super-Mare and other key centres, the West of England is highly regarded for its business strengths, good access to markets and qualified staff and an excellent quality of life.

Ready access to the M4 and M5 motorway corridors means London, Birmingham, Exeter and Cardiff can all be reached within two hours by road and fast rail services run from the two Bristol and Bath-Spa stations to central London, in less than two hours. Bristol International Airport is eight miles from Bristol City Centre and flights go to major European centres, the USA (New York) and key UK destinations. The Bristol Port Company operates one of the UK?s most successful and fastest-growing commercial ports, and has plans to create a new deep-water container terminal. The West of England will benefit from £300 million of investments in transport infrastructure over the next few years focused on improving public transport in Greater Bristol, Weston-super-Mare and Bath.

Benefiting from a skilled workforce, four prestigious universities and some of the highest productivity and business survival rates in the UK, the West of England economy is highly competitive and contributes over a quarter of the South West region?s economic output. Existing strengths and projected contributions to the regional and national economy have enabled the West of England to become a UK Growth Point and, in 2005, Bristol was awarded the accolade of Science City, one of only six English cities recognised by UK government for outstanding science, technology and innovation activities.


This successful and vibrant area has its roots in a long-standing tradition of science and innovation with particular strengths in advanced and aerospace engineering, ICT and silicon design and creative technologies. Over 22% of the workforce is already employed in knowledge-intensive industries and alongside more traditional expertise is a growing presence of new and exciting sectors including bioscience and environmental technologies.

The West of England?s economy is supported by some of the best-quality higher education in the UK, across the whole range of provision in the university sector. There are four universities: Bristol, Bath, West of England and Bath Spa. Bristol and Bath are in the top ten of any UK league table and Bristol is one of the UK?s most popular universities in terms of the number of applications per place. If Bristol and Bath?s research results were combined, they would show the fourth most powerful research environment in the UK, behind Oxford, Cambridge and University College London, but ahead of other leading London and all the major civic universities.

Aerospace and Advanced Engineering The West of England supports the largest aerospace and advanced engineering clusters in the South West. Nine out of the twelve largest aerospace companies in the UK have major facilities here including Airbus, Rolls Royce and BAE Systems which are supported by upwards of 700 supply chain companies. The Airbus Composite Structures Development Centre is just one excellent example of successful collaboration, showcasing an alliance of companies, universities and colleges who together offer an accessible world-class capability in composites technology.


The West of England is the hub of the UK?s silicon industry, Europe?s largest concentration of silicon designers, second only to the USA?s Silicon Valley. Large multinationals such as Orange, Toshiba and HP Labs all have bases here, as do many smaller world-leading specialist companies like picochip, Icera and Xmos. It is a diverse sector whose strengths include wireless communications, semiconductors, photonics, super-/grid-computing and software.


The creative industries sector is growing rapidly and employs more creatives than any other area outside London. Businesses range from the worldrenowned, such as the BBC?s Natural History Unit and Oscar-winning Aardman Animations, to small businesses and individuals. Bristol is also home to the nationally recognised Watershed Media Centre. iShed, the Watershed digital sister organisation is leading the way in cross-sector collaboration between ICT and the creative industries.


The West of England is emerging as a significant hub of environmental technologies with around 400 companies and employment above the regional and national averages and expected to continue to grow. Strengths include waste, recycling and sustainable energy technologies, with particular strengths in wind and tidal power. The West of England is also home to a range of leading environmental organisations including Sustrans and the Soil Association.

Bristol?s Science City status also enables particularly interesting cross-disciplinary activity, which is becoming increasingly important in today?s highly competitive marketplaces. Initiatives include collaborations between technology companies and the creative industries, as well as traditional advanced engineering technologies finding new applications in the environmental sector.

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From high-specification office and industrial space to major distribution centres or a variety of serviced or incubator accommodation, the West of England can provide a location solution at prices significantly below London and the South East and highly competitive to all major regional UK centres.

One of the major new opportunities in the West of England is the £300 million Science Park (SPark), a project led and developed by Quantum Property Partnership and the South West Regional Development Agency in collaboration with the Universities of Bristol, Bath and the West of England. Acting as a major hub for science and technology, and including a new innovation centre, SPark will create around 6,000 highly skilled jobs when complete and attract companies from many of the area?s established and emerging science and innovation sectors. Work is beginning on phase 1 which will include the new innovation centre, highspec offices, flexible lab space and park facilities, with the first buildings to open in the second half of 2009. SPark will incorporate sustainable and lowcarbon technologies throughout its development.


The West of England Partnership consists of four unitary authorities ? Bath and North East Somerset, City of Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire ? and a range of social, economic and environmental partners. The Partnership provides a free relocation assistance service to offer help including employment and population information, commercial property search, familiarisation tours and introductions to key contacts.

For further information contact:
Invest West
West of England Partnership
Tel: +44 (0)117 903 6876
Or visit:

Added the 16 September 2008 in category Innovation UK Vol4-1

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