Swindon and Wiltshire can develop a vibrant and innovative manufacturing sector based on high-growth areas such as renewable energy and waste, sustainable materials and biosciences, according to a major new report.
The area’s Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has drawn up a ‘2026’ vision for a thriving economy which emphasises the benefits brought by a strong, modern manufacturing base.
This includes exploiting the area’s strong military presence and developing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) so they can respond quickly to developing opportunities.
While manufacturing is a bigger contributor to the economy in Swindon than almost all other towns and cities in the South of England – based in large degree on its strong automotive industry – the LEP wants to ensure that the sector is steered towards the high-value end of the spectrum, especially around parts of the industry that are expected to continue to grow.
The themes and priorities to encourage high-value manufacturing in the area came from a research project involved 35 companies and organisations in workshops, questionnaires and interviews.
The report says this will be supported by innovation and technology centres that build connectivity and local strengths.
A manufacturing network will now take the lead on preparing an implementation plan which, led by the LEP, involves representatives from the Manufacturing Advisory Service, key business figures and other supporting organisations.
The network will also work with LEPs from other parts of the country to collaborate with joint development opportunities.
The LEP highlights existing manufacturers such as upmarket office furniture maker Herman Miller, microchip giant Intel, tyre manufacturer Cooper Tires and household appliance pioneer Dyson.
Further details and a full version of the research report is on the LEP’s website at www.swlep.biz