Lord Francis Maude, the Government’s Minister for Trade and Investment, paid a visit to Bristol yesterday (July 21) to support the region’s drive to encourage more companies to export and its successful programme to attract inward investment.
As the region’s reputation as one of the UK’s key hotspots for global investment grows, Lord Maude met with SMEs and recent investors in the region, as well as representatives from British engineering giant Rolls-Royce and inward investment agency Invest Bristol & Bath.
He also met representatives from Business West, which runs the contract for UK Trade & Investment in the South West, to learn more about how the region is supporting the Government’s national export drive. This includes seeing an innovative shipping container at Leigh Court, packed with products to showcase how local firms are selling goods around the globe.
In advance of the visit Lord Maude said: “The Government aims to have 100,000 more companies exporting in 2020 than in 2010, and to reach the target of £1 trillion in exports. With UK products and services in such high demand, this is an opportune moment to capitalise and encourage companies across the length and breadth of the UK to expand overseas.
“The South West is already on this export journey and successfully attracting high-quality inward investment, but there is still more we can do. I look forward to meeting some of the region’s exporters and investors and reaffirming the area’s reputation as a major business hub and centre of innovation.”
Barbara Davies, chief executive of the West of England LEP said: “Lord Maude’s visit to Bristol illustrates the Government’s continued focus on the region, an area it recognises as a major contributor to UK plc. Bristol and Bath has a growing reputation as one of the UK’s top global investment hotspots and is continuing to attract businesses, blue chip firms and start-ups alike, which are drawn to its key sector strengths in high tech, creative and digital, aerospace and advanced engineering, and professional and financial services.”
Phil Smith, managing director of Business West, said: “With the government setting ambitious targets for exports, Business West has followed suit by launching our #GetExporting initiative to get 2,020 businesses exporting more by 2020.
“Seeing our innovative shipping container gives Lord Maude a chance to see sample products exported from the South West and to hear about successful local businesses spearheading this export drive by putting the South West on the world map.
“Together we can send a collective message that exporting can be done successfully, particularly when they make use of the great support and guidance available from UK Trade & Investment and Business West.”
Recent figures showed that 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. Examples include American supercomputer giant Cray Inc, which last 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.
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.