Lift off for iAero

An £8m cutting-edge aerospace technology centre in Yeovil is taking off with construction work starting on site.

Somerset County Council is working with the aerospace industry, including Leonardo Helicopters in Yeovil, on the flagship iAero Centre to cement Somerset’s place at the heart of this important business sector.

The Centre will encourage innovation, collaboration and growth in the aerospace sector and supply chain, ensuring it remains competitive in a fast- changing world.

Construction contractors Willmott Dixon have just started work on the site, owned by Leonardo Helicopters, and construction of the Centre is due to be completed in July next year with the first tenants expected to move in later in 2020.

Somerset County Council will be appointing an expert operator to manage the iAero (Yeovil) Centre and to provide support to businesses.

Councillor David Hall, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Planning and Community Infrastructure, said: “Aerospace is one of our county’s most important areas of manufacturing. I am delighted to see work starting on such an important centre.

“Aerospace is a global industry and we have to make sure Somerset is recognised as the destination of choice for aerospace businesses to stay, grow and innovate.

“The iAero Centre is therefore about securing the future of a strategically important industry in the county and, in doing so, investing in Somerset jobs prospects, future economic prosperity and business rate income for the Council. Prosperity, and a thriving sustainable economy helps pay for all the essential services the County Council provides.”

The project is being funded by Somerset County Council, the European Regional Development Fund and, through the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Deal, Government’s Local Growth Fund.

Steve Hindley CBE DL, Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, said:

“The LEP is delighted to support this project with investment from its Growth Deal with Government that partly funds 60 projects across Somerset, Devon, Plymouth and Torbay to generate jobs and growth in the economy.

“The iAero Centre will be an essential asset in delivering our Local Industrial Strategy ambitions to support the high-tech engineering sector and ensure that our aerospace industry and its supply chain will fully engage with cutting edge technologies and remain highly competitive within the global arena”.

Sarah Cook, Vice President UK Government Business at Leonardo Helicopters, said: “I’m delighted construction work on this exciting new innovation centre has started and I congratulate Somerset County Council and all the other stakeholders on successfully bringing this project to fruition.

“The iAero Centre is a very welcome boost for the region’s aerospace sector, which needs to ensure it remains at the forefront of technology and competitive in the global market. The proximity to Leonardo will foster close working relationships with regional SMEs and education, a clear focus for exciting research and development activities and a unique environment with airfield access.”

Rob Woolcock, Willmott Dixon Director, said: ‘We are delighted to be working on this project. We understand its significance, both in terms of what it means to the aerospace industry in the region, but also in supporting the growth and prosperity of the regional economy.

“Today was about marking the start of the journey and we look forward to delivering an exceptional centre for the aerospace industry. In addition to delivering the building itself, we are putting in place a social value plan that will see opportunities for apprenticeships, work experience and learning opportunities for local people.’’


Image: Construction starts: Left to right are: Corinne Matthews, Nuclear and Aerospace Sector Lead, Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership; Louise Reekie, Team Leader – South West Growth Delivery Team, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government; Councillor David Hall, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Planning and Community Infrastructure, Somerset County Council; Sarah Cook, Vice President UK Government Business, Leonardo Helicopters.

European Regional Development Fund

 The project is receiving up to £3,049,240 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.  The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.  For more information visit

Local Growth Fund

Local Enterprise Partnerships are playing a vital role in driving forward economic growth across the country, helping to build a country that works for everyone.

That’s why by 2021 Government will have invested over £12bn through the Local Growth Fund, allowing LEPs to use their local knowledge to get all areas of the country firing on all cylinders.

Some additional key facts:

  • There are 38 LEPs covering the whole of England
  • The government has awarded £9.1bn in three rounds of Growth Deals to local areas to drive economic
  • LEPs are investing in a wide range of projects including transport, skills, business support, broadband, innovation and flood

The Local Growth Fund in Heart of the South West

The Heart of the South West LEP’s total Growth Deal is worth £598m; including £239m from Government and £351m match funding. Over the lifetime of the Growth Deal: 2015 – 2021; HotSW LEP estimates the investment will create up to 26,300 new jobs and 16,400 new homes.