Lift-off: iAero opens for business

L-R, Yeovil MP Marcus Fysh, Councillor David Hall, Somerset County Council Cabinet member for Economic Development, Planning and Community Infrastructure, and Nick Whitney, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters UK

A new £10m aerospace centre in Somerset dedicated to innovation, collaboration and sustainable aviation has officially opened.

The iAero project, led by Somerset County Council, demonstrates the continuing commitment to the aerospace industry and underlines its importance to the economy of Somerset and the South West.

iAero is a hub for collaboration and innovation on new products. It stands next door to world-leading aerospace company Leonardo UK Ltd, a key partner in the project.

The centre – one of just a handful of aerospace innovation centres nationwide – will be the gateway for the aerospace industry to access small and medium enterprises who are looking to collaborate and innovate on new products at this dynamic and creative hub.

The opening, captured on video, on 22 February marked the start of a new phase in the development, securing the right tenants, cementing its place in the aerospace industry and maximising its economic benefits. The ribbon was cut for the official opening by Yeovil MP Marcus Fysh.

Councillor David Hall, Cabinet member for Economic Development, Planning and Community Infrastructure, said: “iAero plays a key part in our innovation portfolio to support key Somerset industries and sectors. It will support aerospace; the Energy Innovation Centre at Bridgwater supports the nuclear and low carbon industries while the Digital Innovation Centre under construction in Taunton, will support the county’s fast-growing digital economy.

“iAero represents a significant investment in the future of Somerset’s aerospace industry, delivered with funding from the County Council, the European Union and UK Government.”

Karl Tucker, chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, said: “The launch of iAero is extremely exciting and of huge significance to the region. The centre will contribute to local economic growth and the creation of high-value jobs as well as our clean growth ambitions. 

“iAero will provide an important facility to support the South West’s well-established aerospace cluster, and its national and global competitiveness. The facilities at iAero will enable the development of innovative and sustainable solutions, putting the South West at the centre of cutting-edge emission reducing technologies.

“We are delighted to have been able to support the iAero Centre with funding from our Growth Deal and Getting Building Fund allocations and look forward to seeing the fantastic work which will surely take place here in the coming years.”

Nick Whitney, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters UK, said: “Yeovil has a long history in aerospace. The iAero centre marks the next frontier for the aerospace community in Somerset. The freedom to explore, experiment, and engineer at the centre will ensure the region remains at the cutting-edge of innovative flight technologies.”

The iAero Centre has been funded by Somerset County Council, Government’s Local Growth Fund as part of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Deal and the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme . Fit out of the Centre is being funded by Government’s Getting Building Fund with these monies secured by Somerset County Council via the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership.

For more information about the iAero Centre or to register your interest, please email iAeroCentreYeovil@somerset.gov.uk

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Notes to Editors:

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 the 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 https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.

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 growth.
  • LEPs are investing in a wide range of projects including transport, skills, business support, broadband, innovation and flood defences.

The Local Growth Fund in Heart of the South West

The Heart of the South West LEP’s total Growth Deal is worth £590m; including £239m from Government and £351m match funding. Over the lifetime of the Growth Deal: 2015 – 2025; HotSW LEP estimates the investment will create up to 22,641 new jobs and 18,911 new homes.

Getting Building Fund

On 4 August 2020, the Government confirmed the list of over 300 successful projects which will receive a share of £900 million from the Getting Building Fund. The full list of projects is available on GOV.UK.

The Getting Building Fund is investing in shovel-ready infrastructure projects to create jobs and support economic recovery across the country. Projects funded include:

• regeneration of town and city centres

• green infrastructure and clean energy

• transport and digital connectivity improvements

• unlocking of housing and business sites

• support for SMEs and learners

The successful projects (over 300) are expected to deliver up to 85,000 jobs, over 1,500,000 sqm of commercial floor space, unlocking 45,000 homes, almost 1,000,000 sqm of public realm or green space improved or created, over 50,000 new learners assisted, and 65 million kgs of CO2 emissions saved. All projects have been selected by Local Enterprise Partnerships and Mayoral Combined Authorities in each area and endorsed by the Housing Secretary.

The Heart of the South West LEP secured a total allocation of £35.4 million from the Getting Building Fund – the highest allocation in the south west.

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