Economic development strategy
This economic development strategy is the first for the new Somerset West and Taunton Council and provides a strategic framework against which future economic development interventions will be made.
The strategy which was approved by Full Council in February 2020 prior to the Covid19 pandemic, will measure the impact of those interventions in terms of addressing and improving some of the underlying issues and challenges identified during its development over the last year,
Some of the issues such as social mobility and opportunity are longer term systemic challenges that need to be constantly re-visited, whereas others relate to new business opportunities in emerging sectors, and new ways of doing business, such as increasing digitalisation and the need to respond to sustainable living and climate change.
The strategy has been developed through wide consultation and stakeholder engagement. The yearly work plan will be prioritised and reviewed to take into account what has been achieved and what more there is to do, as well as identifying opportunities to leverage national and regional funding streams in support of taking forward some of the proposed interventions,
Our Council will be focused on evidence gathering, enabling, facilitating and seed corn funding interventions in partnership with sub-regional stakeholders; and leveraging Government funding through the LEP, against the latest policy thinking such as the Local Industrial Strategy and post Covid19 recovery strategies.
The strategy is also available in a text only version.
Over the last few months, SWT has been working to understand its knowledge economy and innovation assets, clusters and businesses to help further develop the knowledge economy opportunities for its businesses and residents looking to the future and as a commitment made in the Economic Development Strategy published in March 2020.
It has provided a clear way forward for developing a framework for action for the short term but with an eye to a longer term gain, as the initial innovation clusters and innovation board is established, building on immediate opportunities including the Digital Innovation Centre on Firepool and the UKHO exploitation of maritime data, the digital and creative clusters in Taunton supported by Digital Taunton/Somerset and the Somerset Arts and Business Cultural Alliance and the Creative Innovation Centre CICCIC as well as the recently formed joint venture between Somerset Foundation NHS Trust at Musgrove and Rutherford Diagnostics Ltd, who are opening a diagnostics and medtech innovation centre at the former fire control centre on Blackbrook in Taunton.
In addition, this distributed innovation park will extend to include the opportunity for a green and circular economy building on the exciting opportunities in Watchet with Biohm and the Onion Collective and use of natural capital for sustainable construction materials linked to Mycelium and future opportunities working with companies like Viridor and the Somerset Waste partnership.
This is the start of an evolving journey involving a range of partners linked to the emerging Taunton Innovation District concept.