The South West Regional Development Agency
The South West RDA?s role in encouraging innovation is a mixture of direct delivery and of influencing the strategies, policies and actions of a wide range of other organisations.
Its main aim is to ensure that the innovation agenda is fully recognised throughout the region. It aims to:
Undertake key initiatives to encourage innovation in business
Increase the rate of technology transfer between further and higher education, public sector research establishments and businesses, particularly internationally.
A range of initiatives supports the promotion of innovation in South West England. These include:
South West England is home to the UK?s largest concentration of silicon designers, second in the world only to the US. The sector employs approximately 5,000 people. A feature of the cluster is its active start-up culture, with more than £250m raised in venture capital in recent years.
In order to encourage this, a sophisticated support structure has evolved, with assistance from the South West Regional Development Agency. Silicon design companies located in the South West have the dual advantage of a supportive ecosystem and a highly skilled workforce. The latter is the legacy of Inmos in Bristol and GECPlessey Semiconductor in Swindon.
Between them, these two organisations trained a generation of silicon designers and, while the organisations themselves have changed beyond recognition, the designers endure and have gone on to lead the world in areas like RF, video, multicore processor and reconfigurable components. Central to the growth of the industry are the start-up business incubators run by SETsquared, which is a partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Southampton and Surrey.
These incubators provide high-growth potential technology start-ups with serviced office space, business guidance and mentoring, as well as access to a high-calibre network of experienced entrepreneurs, potential investors and business professionals. They have a proven track record of helping high-tech ventures to move from initial ideas to commercial viability.
Silicon South West was founded by Simon Bond (who runs the SETsquared incubators in Bath and Swindon) as a way of reaching out to the entrepreneurial semiconductor sector in the region.
?Entrepreneurs can be anywhere,? Simon says, ?embedded in an organisation or working at their kitchen table. Some of our entrepreneurs are from spin-out companies from the universities, but the majority just happen to live around here. Silicon South West holds regular events that generally attract in excess of 100 delegates and our newsletter includes some of the most highly regarded writers from the electronics sector.
?Semiconductor start-ups in the Silicon South West network also enjoy free access to the latest Electronic Design Automation software as a way of helping them to raise investment.?
Exciting developments are currently underway that look set to secure the future of the electronics sector in South West England. Silicon South West recently secured UK Trade & Investment funding to run a pilot to fast-track semi-conductor start-ups in the region. And, even more significant for the region, are plans to create the UK?s first Silicon Research and Development Centre at the S-Park Science Park in Bristol.
Simon Bond concludes: ?Almost all high-value industry, including environmental technology and aerospace, depends on silicon design. The South West?s new Silicon Research and Development Centre will allow more semiconductor design companies to enhance their designs at prototype stage and, subsequently, improve the speed to market for their silicon chips.
?Nothing else like this exists in the UK and it will provide an important competitive advantage for the UK, attracting growing numbers of inward investors.?
If we?ve whetted your appetite to invest in South West England as a place for innovative companies, then you can find out more by visiting www.sw-england.com.
Added the 28 August 2009 in category Innovation UK Vol5-1