From Brunel to Concorde and the A380, the West of England has a long tradition of scientific discovery, technological innovation and creativity.
Made up of Bristol, Bath and key centres in North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, the West of England is one of only six Science City Regions of England and is highly regarded for its diverse and mixed economy, highly skilled workforce, great connectivity to London and international markets and an excellent quality of life.
Recently classed as a ?hot spring? innovation cluster in the World Economic Forum?s innovation map, the West of England is a successful and vibrant area with particular strengths in aerospace and advanced engineering, ICT and silicon design and creative technologies. Over 22% of the workforce is 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 supports the largest aerospace and advanced engineering cluster in the South West. Nine out of the 12 largest aerospace companies in the UK have major facilities here, including Airbus, Rolls Royce, GKN and BAE Systems, and they are supported by more than 700 supply chain companies.
The recently announced £340m government loan to help Airbus design and manufacture radically different composite wings for the A350 XWB will strengthen the area?s position at the forefront of composite technology research. The sub-region?s commitment to composite technology is demonstrated by cutting-edge collaborations between industry and academia, including the Airbus Composite Structures Development Centre, Bristol University?s Advanced Composites Centre for Innovation and Science, and the University of Bath?s Composites Research Unit, which are leading the way in the development of innovative and lighter materials that help use less fuel and reduce CO² emissions.
The West of England is also the centre of the largest concentration of silicon designers in the world outside Silicon Valley. Large multinationals such as Orange, Toshiba and HP Labs all have bases here, as do many smaller worldleading specialist companies like picoChip and Xmos.
With the BBC?s Natural History Unit and Oscar-winning Aardman Animations, the area is home to the largest UK creative industries cluster outside London. First-class facilities include the Watershed Media Centre and the Pervasive Media Studio, a pioneering R&D centre for ICT and creative industries collaborating on new technologies. South West England has recently been named the UK?s first Low Carbon Economic Area and the West of England is leading the way with world-class companies in renewable energy, waste management and environmental services. Major initiatives like the Bristol Environmental Technology and Services Partnership and the University of Bath?s involvement in the Sustainable Bioenergy Centre and Low Carbon South West network are just a few examples of how the area continues to rise to the exciting challenges facing this dynamic and emerging industry.
The West of England?s economy is supported by some of the best-quality higher education in the UK. The brainpower of the area?s four universities makes the Bath and Bristol City region the third most powerful research environment in the country, with world-class centres such as the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, the largest research facility in the UK for advanced robotics. The Bristol and Bath Science Park (SPark) will provide a vital new resource for supporting innovation and knowledge exchange. Acting as a major hub for science and technology, SPark will create around 6,000 highly skilled jobs when fully developed and will include an innovation centre together with flexible, sustainable buildings designed to meet the needs of fast-evolving enterprises.
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Added the 06 October 2009 in category Innovation UK Vol5-2