Business sectors

Aerospace and Advanced Engineering

Somerset has a high concentration of aerospace businesses, supplemented by initiatives such as iAero, offering businesses huge potential for innovation, collaboration and expansion. Productivity is above the national average with significant growth opportunities. The promotion of Somerset’s national and global aerospace business reputation and competitiveness is at the heart of what we do.

Key contacts

Department for International Trade (DIT)

South West International Trade Team supports small to medium businesses (SMEs) in the South West of England to develop their international sales and helps first-time or experienced exporters enter new markets.

Innovate UK

Innovate UK and the Knowledge Transfer Network – support for business innovation.

The Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI)

Develop the strategy, and road maps and launch the grant-funded schemes for businesses.

National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP)

Run grant-funded calls for SMEs for new technologies, calls are part of the ATI portfolio.

West of England Aerospace Forum (WEAF)

The local trade body supporting Aerospace

Aerospace Research Centres (ARC)

The national network of universities supporting Aerospace

Agriculture

Agriculture is a critical element of the Somerset economy with farming, forestry and agriculture helping to shape the distinctive character of the countryside in the County, creating a major tourism asset.

Small family run farms and internationally known brands sit side by side forming Somerset’s farming landscape which is renowned for dairy and cider production.

Energy generation and other land based farm diversification help to boost income to ensure long-term viability

Key contacts

Farming and Food Resources Hub – Heart of South West Growth Hub

The Farming and Food Resources Hub brings together information, guides, funding and project opportunities for the farming and food industry.

Construction

Nationally significant infrastructure projects such as Hinkley Point C and the A303 highway enhancement are just two high profile recent projects to benefit Somerset’s construction sector. Large companies offering integrated services, small medium size and specialist contractors through to sole traders are prevalent across the County. Somerset Council is working with a range of partners and industry leaders to improve skills and explore opportunities for widening the use of new technologies to ensure the sector remains buoyant into the future.

Key contacts

Construction Industry Council (CIC)

The representative forum for the professional bodies, research organisations and specialist business associations in the construction

Construction Industry Training Board (CITB)

Supports the skills needs of the construction industry

Digital and Data

Somerset has large tech clusters for Aerospace, CleanTech, MedTech and Nuclear Energy tech businesses. The BioTech sector is also expanding fast, with companies like Singer Instruments boosting the county’s profile.

There is currently a technology workforce of 10,068 people working across 1,264 firms in the county, with the sector contributing around £658 million a year to Somerset’s economy. However, this is a fast-growing area and our tech industry growth is forecasted at 12.5% annually.

New digital initiatives are being developed by the council to support this growth with the aim of enhancing the skills within the workforce including the creation of the £11m Somerset Digital Innovation Centre (SEIC) and a digital innovation zone. This will provide a fantastic high-grade workspace for local tech-based businesses and dedicated innovation support to help them grow.

Key contacts

Digital Somerset 

Somerset’s digital cluster network is made up of passionate individuals and businesses striving for Somerset to be the hub for digital innovation, business transformation and collaboration. From expert talks, networking, training sessions and even a digital Somerset roadshow, Digital Somerset is bringing together the digitally curious across Somerset.

Tech South West

The tech cluster for the South West of England

Food, Drink and Agri-tech

Food and drink are a huge sector of vital importance to our local economy. Whilst Somerset is known worldwide for its cider and its cheddar cheese, it is also home to Britain’s largest organic brand Yeo Valley, as well as many small independent food and drink companies.

A mapping and research exercise was undertaken in 2021 which highlighted some sector specific needs and issues that local businesses faced – from labelling and food safety regulations to training and supply chain disruptions and a programme of support was undertaken to address the issues and help this sector to grow and thrive.

Useful Contacts

Devon and Somerset Trading Standards 

Trading Standards officers are able to help, by providing tailored services to help you develop your business and comply with Trading standards regulations.

Heart of the South West Growth Hub

Farming and Food Resources Hub brings together information, guides, funding and project opportunities for the farming and food industry.

Food, catering and retail

Advice on food business registration, food safety, labelling and packaging, business support HACCP plans

Food Standards Agency

Food safety management procedures and food hygiene regulations for small businesses

Support for agriculture, food and drink businesses

Trade advisers, events, and export finance. The Department for International Trade.

South West Food Hub

Your opportunity to get involved in supplying the public sector.

Shop Somerset

Get on the map of local retailers in Somerset

The Food Works

Food and drink innovation centre, offering food-grade business units and development kitchens, plus hands-on food technical and specialist business support, networking, free events, workshops and seminars on various topics to help you and your food business

Barclays AgriTech

Support the thriving community of AgriTech startups and scale-ups

Wendy Hewitson, Eagle Labs AgriTech Programme Manager
Phone: 07468 714959
Email: wendy.hewitson@barclays.com

Roxanne Martin, Eagle Labs Agrifood Lead
Mobile: 07471 145298
Email: Roxanne.martin@barclays.com

Networking groups:

Bridgwater and Taunton college food networking group

For more details and to get onto their mailing list to hear about events contact

Neil Morgan, Business and Relationship Manager
Email: MORGANN@btc.ac.uk
Phone: 01278 455464 Ext-6462 DDI: +44(0)1823 366484
Mobile: 07795 557089

Taste of the West is a membership organisation whose mission is to promote local food and drink.
Phone: 01404 822012
Email: enquiries@tasteofthewest.co.uk

Green Business and Clean Growth

We are already a leading area in the UK for clean growth, with the construction of Hinkley Point, (based near Bridgwater) which is due to provide low-carbon electricity for around 6 million homes and will make a major contribution to the UK’s move to reduce carbon emissions.

Somerset council have committed to tackling climate change and making Somerset carbon neutral by 2030. Many Somerset businesses across all sectors and sizes have risen to the challenge, making changes, measuring their carbon footprint and working towards becoming sustainable or increasing their eco credentials.

We are asking everyone who runs a business in Somerset to consider ways in which their business can help tackle climate change. If you would like to be part of a Green Business Network and to be put in touch with those businesses sharing their net zero best practice, please email greenbusinesssupport@somerset.gov.uk

Contacts 

The organisations below provide advice and support on decarbonising business practices and becoming more sustainable and ‘green’.

WRAP – The Climate Crisis: Act Now

For excellent information on tackling climate change and circular economy models

The UK B Corporation Movement

Join the B Corp movement as many other Somerset businesses have

UK – SME Climate Hub

We encourage all small businesses to sign up and pledge to cut carbon emissions and help the UK become net zero neutral by 2050.

For further information on Somerset net zero business support:

Small business sustainability hub | FSB, The Federation of Small Businesses

Net Zero – Heart of South West Growth Hub

Climate Emergency – Businesses

Low Carbon Information Hub | SWMAS

SWMAS can support your business as part of their Make it Net Zero programme and Low Carbon Information Hub.

Manufacturing

Somerset boasts a large variety of thriving manufacturing firms from SMEs to some of the largest and best-known manufacturers in the world including Leonardo UK Ltd, C&J Clark International Ltd, Numatic International Ltd, Thales UK Ltd, Refresco Beverages UK Ltd, Screwfix Direct Ltd etc. We are home to the largest single infrastructure project in Europe, at Hinkley Point and throughout the region, our growing SME’s have created flexibility in their production and more efficient supply chains, enabling them to adapt, thrive and grow.

Manufacturing in Somerset is now the largest contributor to economic output in Somerset and the second largest sector for employment. Companies of all sizes are excelling whether serving the UK markets or exporting across the world.

Useful contacts

South West Manufacturing Advisory Service (SWMAS)

SWMAS helps manufacturing businesses develop their strategy, capability and capacity to improve and grow. Through their team of experienced manufacturing and supply chain specialists, they bring together a broad range of industrial experience, expertise and resources so that businesses can get the right advice and support and take the necessary actions to fulfil their growth potential.

Department for International Trade (DIT)

(DIT) South West International Trade Team supports small to medium businesses (SMEs) in the South West of England to develop their international sales and helps first time or experienced exporters enter new markets.

The Somerset Manufacturers’ Group (SMG)

A group dedicated to promoting and supporting Somerset’s diverse manufacturing sector is calling on the county’s decision-makers to join and have their say on its future.

Yeovil Chamber Manufacturing Hub (M-Hub)

Run by, and for, manufacturing and engineering businesses across Yeovil and South Somerset. This network of manufacturing and engineering businesses; share best practice, facilitate shared learnings, and create supply-chain and business support opportunities for all participants.

Tourism

Somerset has a thriving tourism industry. We are committed to improving the tourism sector including hospitality, tourism, retail, attractions, activity providers, museums, entertainment, and arts in the region and increasing visitor figures to the area.

The Destination Management Organisations below provide advice and support for tourism businesses

Useful contacts

Visit Somerset

Visit Somerset represents our £1.3bn visitor economy, maximising the county’s profile and supporting businesses in the sector through marketing and consultancy.

Visit Exmoor

Supports and promotes tourism across the Greater Exmoor area which includes Exmoor National Park, West Somerset, and the Quantock Hills.

Visit South Somerset

Welcomes existing tourism businesses plus anyone thinking of starting a tourism business in South Somerset.

Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE)

In Somerset, there is a strong tradition of volunteering and community action, with a diverse range of charities, community groups and social purpose enterprises working across and within its districts, towns and villages to tackle social problems, and improve communities, people’s life chances, or the environment. Key areas in which Somerset VCSE organisations work are education and lifelong learning, social care, leisure (including sport), community development and mutual aid.

Useful contacts

Somerset Social Enterprise Fund (SSEF)

Established with funding from Somerset Council, SSEF is a locally managed social investment fund designed to help voluntary, charity and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations in Somerset start new initiatives or grow established ones though as a combination of loans and grants.

Somerset Social Enterprise Network

Set up by Community Council for Somerset (CCS), the network offers support and encouragement to promote social enterprises in the county.

Spark Somerset  is the Somerset VCSE sector lead organisation and supports local VCSE organisations and community groups with development, business planning, sourcing or applying for funding or recruiting volunteers. They also support and encourage networking across the sector through newsletters and hosting local forums.

Somerset Community Foundation works to increase the impact of local philanthropy. Their website gives you more information about the funds and initiatives they are involved in.

Community Council for Somerset support a range of initiatives including Village Agents Project, support for village halls and community buildings, community and neighbourhood planning, using Community Rights, funding support, energy projects, Social Enterprise Somerset and other local initiatives.

The UK Civil Society Almanac brings together data from charities’ accounts, administrative data and surveys to provide a comprehensive overview of the structure and economy of the UK voluntary sector  For information about registered charities, visit the Charity Commission website.

For more information, please email communities@somerset.gov.uk

Last reviewed: May 30, 2023 by Jenny

Next review due: November 30, 2023

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