“An engine for growth for the national economy” was how Cities Minister Greg Clark described Plymouth on Friday when we signed the landmark City Deal.
“…one of the United Kingdom’s biggest assets – known all over the world for experience and excellence in marine engineering,” he continued.
Sound familiar? Well, it’s what we’ve been saying for years – and today’s historic development – essentially the devolving of powers from government to local leaders – demonstrates that that confidence is shared on a national level. It is recognition for the way the city has grasped the opportunity to shape its own destiny.
Take the proposal to unlock land at South Yard in Devonport Naval Base. This will offer a prime, deep-water location for marine enterprises to expand their operations and tap into the world class research and development community here. It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity.
The University will be central to that, and we’re already seeing the difference our Marine Building is making to the sector. The wave tanks are solidly booked for months, and one client recently told us that he’d searched all over Europe to find the right location to test his renewable energy device – and nothing had come close to what Plymouth was offering.
But this is more than just a ‘City Deal’ – it is a triumph for the South West and the way that the partners have come together, from local authorities and enterprise partnerships, to higher and further education, public and private sector.
Through Cornwall and Devon, across the University’s heartland, the deal will be focusing upon job creation and tackling some of the deep-seated issues in our economy around long-term unemployment.
Again, for the University this is “singing to the choir”. Through the Growth Acceleration and Investment Network (GAIN) that we lead, we’ve been helping to nurture businesses, and create jobs, opportunities and wealth. You only have to look at the stunning success of the Innovation Centres at Pool, Tremough and Truro that we manage on behalf of Cornwall Council to know that this isn’t mere rhetoric – it’s an economic success story of which we can be proud.
That story has just had a new chapter commissioned with developments today. I’m looking forward to the University being one of its lead authors and to seeing our world class research, teaching excellence and enterprise transform lives.