Building on previous years' successes, we announced a year of success at our AGM last Friday, celebrating 12 months of delivering projects that have boosted the region’s economy and enhance opportunities for local communities.
We met with local businesses, universities and councils, and our directors provided members with an update on investments during 2018 and launched our 2018 Annual Report.
Through the game-changing Solent Growth Deal, alongside a number of other funding programmes, LEP investment in the area has reached more than £130m, including £13 million invested in small and medium sized businesses (SMEs), £40 million invested in skills, £10 million to support new ideas and strengthen innovation capability and £70 million to support critical infrastructure.
Last year we achieved two national firsts with the opening of the Cancer Immunology Centre in Southampton, the UK’s first dedicated research facility for which we provided £4.5m, and the National Maritime Autonomy Centre. New investments during 2018 included provision of nearly £7.5m in funding to help the Warsash School of Maritime Science and Engineering upgrade its estate and install new simulator training facilities, further strengthening the global maritime training credentials of the area.
Small and medium sized businesses continue to benefit from our investments with more than 270 SMEs having now received grant funding. This in turn is helping to create or protect more than 1,500 jobs, and secure additional investment of over £37.4m directly into local businesses.
Alongside our investment programme, 2018 has been a year of success for the Solent LEPs Enterprise Adviser Network.
Speaking at the AGM, Sandeep Sesodia, Solent Enterprise Adviser said: "The Solent is a national leader in the provision of careers advice to young people, and schools in the LEP area have this year achieved the highest average score in England across benchmarks designed to define what good, practical careers guidance should look like."
Sandeep was speaking in his capacity as a volunteer Solent Enterprise Adviser at Oasis Academy Mayfield. Our award winning Enterprise Adviser Network matches schools and colleges with volunteer business advisers such as Sandeep who shares his knowledge with them. To date more than two thirds of schools in the Solent are engaged with the programme.
The AGM also enabled our Solent LEP Members to look to the future and share their views on priorities for a Solent Local Industrial Strategy.
Brian Johnson, Solent LEP Business Director & SME Business Ambassador said: "With involvement from all sectors of the Solent region, private business and the public sector, education, health, and local communities, this is an opportunity to set the area on a pathway to a more prosperous future for all. We are inviting everyone to join the conversation and take part in a new survey to share their views."
We will use feedback from those who complete the survey and who take part in a wide ranging set of workshops held at different locations, to develop a strategy. The goal is to see the Solent emerge as an internationally-facing, prosperous and confident economy, underpinned by its renowned economic, knowledge, cultural and environmental assets. It is also allows all involved to identify emerging new opportunities for the future.
The closing date for participating in the survey is 3 May 2019. Click here to take part in the survey.
A copy of the 2018 Annual Report is available here.
Further information on becoming a Solent Enterprise Adviser can be found here.