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136INNOVATION UK Centres of Excellence SOUTH WEST: South West Regional Development Agency South West 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 innova-tion in South West England. These include: » » Developing business incubation units and science parks » » Developing a strategy to increase business birth- rate » » Establishing the Regional Venture Capital Fund » » Supporting identified priority sectors for the region » » Developing the South West Observatory. South West England is home to the UK's largest con-centration 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 cul-ture, with more than £ 250m raised in venture capital in recent years. In order to encourage this, a sophisticated support struc-ture 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 Bris-tol 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 part-nership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, South-ampton and Surrey. These incubators provide high- growth potential technol-ogy start- ups with serviced office space, business guid-ance 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 semiconduc-tor sector in the region. " Entrepreneurs can be anywhere," Simon says, " embed-ded 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 news-letter includes some of the most highly regarded writers from the electronics sector. " Semiconductor start- ups in the Silicon South West net-work 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 indus-try, including environmental technology and aerospace, depends on silicon design. The South West's new Silicon Research and Development Centre will allow more semi-conductor 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, attract-ing 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

INNOVATION UK137 Centres of Excellence West: WEST OF ENGLAND PARTNERSHIP Made up of Bristol, Bath and key centres in North Som-erset 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 indus-tries 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 collabora-tions between industry and academia, including the Air-bus 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 develop-ment of innovative and lighter materials that help use less fuel and reduce CO ² emissions. The West of England is also the centre of the largest con-centration 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 world-leading 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 Eng-land 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 Cen-tre 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 brain-power of the area's four universities makes the Bath and Bristol City region the third most powerful research envi-ronment 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 knowl-edge 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 innova-tion centre together with flexible, sustainable buildings designed to meet the needs of fast- evolving enterprises. For further information please contact: Tel: + 44 ( 0) 117 903 6863 E- mail: investwest@ westofengland. org Website: www. investwest. org The West of England is flying high From Brunel to Concorde and the A380, the West of England has a long tradition of scientific discovery, technological innovation and creativity