Top-level partnership aims to unlock investment in South West

John Wilkinson, Kellie Beirne, Darren Jones MP, Ed Rowberry and David TC Davies

Investor BBRC (Bristol & Bath Regional Capital) and the Western Gateway have joined forces with the aim of attracting more private sector investment into Western England.

Plans were unveiled at an event in the House of Commons, attended by national and regional businesses, leaders, and policymakers, focusing on models for investment from both public and private sectors.

BBRC introduced a new Net Zero fund, emphasising its impact investment model that has already generated over £60m in local investment, contributing to levelling up and achieving net zero targets.

The Western Gateway Partnership, in collaboration with EY, launched research to identify opportunities for increased private-sector investment in businesses and innovation, with recommendations to be presented to the government by summer 2024.

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West and shadow chief secretary to the treasury, said: “We have to unlock investment from private capital if we are going to get Britain building again and our economy back on track. As a Member of Parliament in the West of England, I’m delighted to have hosted investors and businesses from the region to discuss how to do just that.”

Ed Rowberry, chief executive of BBRC, said: “Locally-led practical action and catalytic investment are key to delivering impactful social and environmental outcomes. BBRC’s model transforms the way that finance delivers impact and our place-based approach means that impact is in tune with local need rather than against it.

“We can raise capital from investors by offering attractive risk-adjusted returns and impact outcomes, to invest in real estate, infrastructure and businesses in the South West. We’ve proven that a small amount of seed funding can go a long way – for example, Bristol City Council’s £4m commitment to our impact investment fund, City Funds, has unlocked £34m total investment in SMEs in the region. By working alongside Western Gateway and others, we hope to scale our model to unlock further investment in the region and tackle key issues such as housing and the climate crisis.”

John Wilkinson, director, of Western Gateway, said: “South Wales and Western England are home to incredible skilled and creative communities with world-leading manufacturing, universities and high-tech clusters across engineering, cyber and low carbon energy. Despite this potential, the area struggles to attract inward investment – nearly half of the UK’s total investment goes to London, whilst just 2.9% goes to Wales and 5% to the South West.

“We believe we have the potential to become a significant channel for UK inward investment to support economic growth. That’s why the Western Gateway, in partnership with EY, is launching new research to understand where these investment gaps are and which are the most pressing. We want to bridge these gaps and deliver concrete proposals which can help the area achieve its full potential. We’re delighted to be including BBRC as one of our case studies, whose operational model has already shown such positive results for the West of England.”

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