Innovation boost for south west

Innovative businesses in the south west region are to receive a boost through a new £170m European programme formally launched today.

The South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) will manage the programme. It is set to announce the first details of how the region’s share of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Competitiveness Programme will be invested in the region.

The programme will run over the next six years until 2013, and will support a range of strategy-led commissioned projects. These are designed to increase the rate of innovation and knowledge in the region’s businesses and improve the links between higher and further education and business.

The projects will focus on the development of businesses with high-growth potential that will offer higher paid jobs, through enterprise and growth, across a range of sectors with particular emphasis on environmental technology. The programme also aims to increase the level of enterprise in some of the region’s most deprived neighbourhoods, such as those in Plymouth, parts of Bristol and Torbay.

Phil McVey, director of European programmes at the SWRDA, said: ‘This programme will help unlock the region’s business potential by investing in strategy-led commissioned projects that encourage greater competitiveness and productivity. The money will support business growth initiatives, activities aimed at increasing innovation and exploiting the strengths of regional science, research and development.’

The South West RDA has worked with other agencies and organisations such as Government Office South West and the Local Government Association to develop a strategy-led commissioning approach to projects to ensure they meet the needs and priorities for the region and for sub-regional areas.