The Western Powerhouse: the missing piece of the economic puzzle
By Paul Moorby
In early July I spent time with West of England business leaders learning about the launch of Powerhouse for the West – an initiative that aims to bring government and businesses together to drive inclusive growth for all.
Primed for change
A recent report commissioned by Bristol, Cardiff and Newport City Councils proved the economic map of Britain is being “reshaped by devolution”, and the emergence of regional powerhouses are driving growth. However, the report identified an area in the West of Britain - from Swindon, through Bristol and across the Welsh border – that was missing vital powerhouse status.
In July Lord Bob Kerslake, former head of the civil service and chair of the independent UK2070 commission, officially launched the Powerhouse for the West initiative. Presented at the House of Lords to an audience of senior politicians, business and education leaders, the programme promised to support a cross-border partnership that would introduce improved infrastructure and investment across the region of seven cities and 4.4 million people.
A productive region
When launching Powerhouse to the West, Lord Bob Kerslake described the Western region as “highly productive” but “not collectively punching its weight”. This is not due to a lack of innovative and successful businesses, but perhaps a difficulty in negotiating international growth strategies.
In June this year that I joined a handful of innovative Bristol businesses on a visit to the United States – touring the East Coast’s major business and financial centres to network and learn about new business opportunities. As part of a South West trade delegation led by Bristol’s city Mayor Marvin Rees and West of England Metro Mayor Tim Bowles, Chipside was invited specifically to engage with the Boston and Chicago business ecosystem around connected city innovation.
Speaking with like-minded innovators, policy makers and private businesses gave us the opportunity to share best practice and learn from other successful technology providers. The seven day visit also highlighted the support on offer from the UK government abroad and how perceived barriers to UK/US trade can be effectively managed to promote international growth.
Making a power move
As part of the Powerhouse to the West launch, I was once again invited to join SMEs to meet US trade representatives. It assured me that the new programme will share cross-continent opportunities for collaboration and growth with other businesses in our area. It is these partnerships that will truly help South West businesses establish themselves as part of an economically influential region. I look forward to seeing the impact of the initiative and what a powerhouse label could mean for our business and the South West in the future.
To read the full report, visit: www.apowerhouseforthewest.org.uk