The event was a showcase of the thriving economy of Swindon and Wiltshire and some of the latest innovation in our area. The conference began with the UK launch of the Parajet Xplorer Sky Quad, a new hybrid adventure vehicle. Gilo Cardozo, CEO and Founder of Gilo Industries, the manufacturer of the flying car, opened the conference sharing his experience from leaving school early to now leading one of the UK's most innovative aviation companies.
Chairman of the SWLEP John Mortimer welcomed everyone to the event and invited the MP for Salisbury and Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen to the stage to address the conference. The Minister spoke about the important role of the Local Economic Partnership (LEP) in working with Government to support economic growth and achieve the productivity needed for a prosperous post-Brexit UK. He also spoke of the major incidents in South Wiltshire earlier this year and the opportunity to now strategically reposition our area.
Paddy Bradley, SWLEP Director, took a look back at the work of the LEP over the last year investing over £14m in the local economy. This included the Porton Science Park, Improvements to M4 Junction 16 and Greenbridge Roundabout projects and our Growing Places Infrastructure Fund.
Topical among questions from delegates was the skills gap and presentations included current a future skills provision, including the SWLEP's skills service Higher Futures, the Swindon & Wiltshire Careers Hub and the bid in progress for an Institute of Technology. The programme also included a look at the Government's Industrial Strategy and game changing ideas and innovation, including the need for a University of Wessex, the development of Hydrogen technology and Recycling Technology's solution to tackling plastic waste.
During the afternoon Councillor Pauline Church provided delegates with an overview of the recovery plan for South Wiltshire that has been developed by Wiltshire Council and confirmed a team was being setup to lead this important work. A short masterclass was given by crowdfunding expert Anthony Lovell de Souza and Managing Director of Landford Stone Molly Fisher entertained delegates sharing from her business journey over four decades and having survived two recessions; during an interview with Sian Swift from the Swindon & Wiltshire Business Exchange.
The summit concluded with a look ahead and call to action from Chairman John Mortimer summarising the key messages from the event and setting out how people could get involved in growing our local economy. As John closed the event an Army piper and drummer marched into the Longhouse to provide a musical military finale.
The Swindon & Wiltshire Business Growth Summit was a resounding success, 89% of delegates who provided feedback at the conference rated their satisfaction with the event as high. They said "brilliant, very informative, looking forward to next year!", "very interesting and thought-provoking event" and "I never knew there was so much innovation going on in Wiltshire, long may it continue…see you next year."