Somerset Council has invested £13million and secured external funding across Growth Deal (£14.2million), European Regional Development Fund (£6.8million) and the Getting Building Fund (£5.7million) to deliver a network of innovation centres and wrap-around innovation support services for businesses within Somerset’s key growth sectors. Each element has been co-designed and produced in close collaboration with industry and in partnership with the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, HM Government and key industry stakeholders.
The network is a key part of our efforts to produce higher productivity and wages in Somerset, by driving growth through collaboration and innovation. It is also helping Somerset to deliver cleaner growth through ongoing developments in clean energy, less carbon-intensive aerospace solutions, and new and improved digital solutions, all of which are crucial to achieving Somerset’s net zero commitment.
The iAero Centre - Yeovil
The iAero Centre is a 2,398 square metres research, design and innovation facility in Yeovil, built to support the competitiveness and growth of Somerset’s aerospace sector and associated high-value design and engineering technology supply chains. The Centre offers high-quality office, light industrial and collaboration space as well as innovation support services. iAero has been funded by the European Union Regional Development Fund, Local Growth Deal Funding and HM Government’s Getting Building Fund.
Somerset Energy Innovation Centre (SEIC) - Bridgwater
The £ 19 million, 6,100 square metre Somerset Energy Innovation Centre campus in Bridgwater is a hub for businesses to collaborate and exploit opportunities in the clean energy sector. Phase 1 of the campus (SEIC 1) was established to meet the needs of the multi-billion-pound construction of two new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point C, creating a supply chain integration facility that ensured Somerset SMEs were well placed and supported to win contracts. The campus has since grown to include two additional facilities (SEIC 2 and 3). The ambition is to create a sustainable economic legacy through the growth of a South West low carbon energy cluster.
SEIC is a catalyst for collaboration and innovation, providing dynamic space and expert support to the businesses at the heart of the growing low-carbon energy supply chain. It provides a flexible range of high-quality office and meeting spaces, along with a café and networking area. The facility is operated by the South West Manufacturing Advisory Service (SWMAS), who through their expertise advise and support companies to develop capability, innovate and grow.
Firepool Centre for Digital Innovation (FCDI) - Taunton
Digitalisation now underpins nearly all sectors and Somerset is poised to make full use of the opportunities across digital and data.
Due to open in early 2024, the £11 million Digital Innovation Centre will provide a 2,493 square-metre innovation facility in the heart of Taunton. The Centre is designed to drive innovation-led growth in the digital sector, create and safeguard jobs, and provide small and medium-sized businesses with the right support to grow their companies in Somerset. The capital funding for the construction and fit-out of the Centre was secured from the European Union Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and HM Government’s Getting Building Fund.
Firepool Centre for Digital Innovation – Leading digital innovation (website coming soon)
Innovation Support Services
The Somerset Innovation Network (SI-Net) supports collaboration and innovation across Somerset’s three innovation centres, the Somerset Energy Innovation Centre (SEIC), the Somerset Digital Innovation Centre (SDIC) and iAero. Business West, working in consortia with other expert agencies, delivers fully-funded support services to tenants and users of the three centres.
The support that businesses can access includes, but is not limited to:
- Sector-specific expertise and advice across Digital, Aerospace and Advanced engineering and the Low carbon renewable energy sectors
- Business Diagnostic and Action Planning
- Supply Chain Certification
- Business Process and Structure
- Principles of Collaboration
- Market Strategy
- Digital Marketing
- Knowledge transfer
- Digital IP
- Access to Finance
European Regional Development Fund
The iAero (Yeovil) Centre Project is receiving up to £3,049,240 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Somerset Digital Innovation Centre is also receiving up to £1,700,000 of funding under the same programme. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is the Managing Authority for ERDF. Established by the European Union, ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.