While it is relatively easy to see how large corporates can contribute locally towards growth based around nationally identified sectors – the paradigm outlined in Witty – there is a challenge in how we engage Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the growth agenda. Nevertheless, it is essential that SMEs are fully leveraged to contribute given their material contribution to growth in the UK and their role in the supply chain.
The Growth Acceleration and Investment Network (GAIN) is a ‘Growth Hub’ for the South West that focuses on people with ideas, businesses that want to grow and on investors. It seeks to join up physical assets by providing the wiring between them making them more than the sum of the parts. It also seeks to thread services and products across the network to assist people with ideas, business that want to grow and create deal flow for investors. It does not seek to replicate or replace existing services, products or networks but rather add value to them and augment them.
GAIN is a partnership vehicle focussing on the knowledge base that provides a neutral space that uniquely spans two Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) – the Heart of the South West and Cornwall and Isles of Scilly. It currently covers a rural and urban geography of Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, but its ambitions are far wider.
The GAIN team
Founded by Plymouth University with Plymouth City Council and Tamar Science Park as partners, it brings together more than £120m of business infrastructure, world-class research facilities and expertise in a network focused on growth and investment. This means they become more focused and readily accessible to all stakeholders involved. The initiative enables us to work closely with the business community, creating opportunities for those involved and supporting the start-up and growth of a range of determined and ambitious companies, which in turn leads to the creation of jobs and growth in the local economy.
GAIN was also the vehicle used to channel funding from the government’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF). Plymouth University was the first university to successfully bid for RGF funding, securing £8m in total to invest in projects and programmes that are using private sector investment to create economic growth and sustainable development. So far, RGF funding has created 180 new jobs in the region, with a further 340 estimated. The City Deal has led to the expansion of GAIN and we will be assisting 20,000 businesses over the lifetime of the deal, providing another round of Regional Growth Funding which will create 437 jobs from a fund of £3.2m in the GAIN Growth Fund+.
Example: WITT Ltd
“WITT Ltd is an excellent example of the eco-system that GAIN is creating to support people with ideas and businesses that want to grow by linking them together with investors.”
Adam Corney, Marine Commercial Director of Plymouth University
The WITT Energy team has been supported by GAIN to enable growth in people and businesses in the South West of England.
GAIN support through Plymouth University enabled the company to help develop the WITT device, which collects any naturally occurring motion and turns it into useable power, with free use arranged of the pioneering wave tank facilities at the university’s new Marine Building so the device could be tested in simulated sea conditions.
The GAIN-sponsored Marine Innovation Centre (MARIC) went on to make connections for WITT with industry partners who could help them.
A marine version of the WITT device has since been built by Devon-based company Supacat and is now being tested by the University of Exeter on their Dynamic Marine Component Test facility (DMac) through a project led by A&P Falmouth. This will demonstrate the capability of the WITT system to supplement ship power generation systems.
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