Nearly 900 new jobs are set to be created in the West of England over the next three years after 37 new companies invested in setting up a base in the region in 2014/15, many of which hailed from the United States, new figures show.
Examples in the West of England region include: global software technology company Oracle, which has committed to investing in Bristol; American supercomputer giant Cray Inc, which earlier this month (June) opened its European, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) headquarters at the company’s new office in Bristol; and leading global provider of business process outsourcing services, IBEX Global, which also has a base in Bristol.
In total, 886 new jobs have been committed in the region thanks to the arrival of 37 companies in locating here in 2014/15 – beating the region’s target for job creation of 850. According to figures from UKTI, within this total, 552 new jobs were specifically as a result of foreign direct investment successes, namely 26 new companies attracted into the region from overseas.
Matthew Cross, head of inward investment at Invest Bristol & Bath, the agency that spearheads the region’s programme of inward investment, said: “It is clear that our strategy for attracting new investment into the West of England is paying off.
“It is excellent to see that the contribution we are making is not only beneficial to the region, but to the UK as a whole, thanks to the large proportion of inward investment projects that hail from overseas. In fact, 347 of the 552 new jobs set to be created in the region over the next three years via foreign direct investment were secured by Invest Bristol & Bath alone.
“Looking ahead, we have a strong pipeline of inward investment activity, with interest from a major US-based tech company with the potential to generate 180 jobs, a greentech firm with the potential to create 100 jobs and a financial and professional services business with the potential to generate 200 jobs.
“The conversations we are having with companies looking to invest in the region could result in the creation of an additional 3,500 new jobs over the coming years.”
Colin Skellett, chair of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The West of England region is making a significant contribution to the UK in terms of the businesses it is attracting into the country and is therefore a vital part of the jigsaw in the UK’s inward investment success story. With major sector strengths in high tech, creative and digital, aerospace and advanced engineering, and professional and financial services, it is encouraging to see that the region’s reputation as a major UK business hub extends well beyond our borders.”
The picture for the West of England is representative of strong performance across the UK. Trade and Investment Minister Lord Maude said: “2014 was an exceptional year for UK inward investment and we are proud to be bucking the global trend. The UK is a great place for entrepreneurs and corporations to put their energy, their ideas, their money and their talents to work. The Government will continue to work hard to attract investment from across the globe to further strengthen the UK economy.”
Toby Bland head of sales from IBEX Global, which floated on the London Stock Exchange (Aim) two years ago and is backed by Washington DC-based private equity firm The Resource Group, said: “We currently have over 85 people at our Bristol base and are looking to scale up our operations in the city in line with our strategy to grow the business.”
The Bristol and Bath region was last year highlighted by McKinsey & Co/Centre for Cities as having the only fast-growing and globally-significant high-tech cluster in the UK, while a Tech Nation report earlier this year found that Bristol and Bath’s digital cluster is the largest in the UK outside London by volume of employment.
The Bristol and Bath area also sits at the heart of the South West of England’s powerhouse aerospace cluster, the largest in Europe. Meanwhile, Bristol, which holds the title of European Green Capital this year, was recently chosen to host a testbed for cutting-edge Future Cities technology, including driverless cars.
Invest Bristol & Bath supports foreign direct investment, UK national companies and those companies already in the region as they grow and expand with hands-on advice and intelligence, including introductions to key local influencers, support in finding a suitable property and recruitment-related advice. The Invest Bristol & Bath team also undertakes trade missions to global markets as part of its efforts to attract companies to the region.
The inward investment agency’s strategy is to develop a strong investment pipeline through careful research, generating new leads, long-term campaigns and projects through partners such as UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), the private sector, direct leads and networking, then providing compelling intelligence to prospective investors that will secure the investment.