With the G7 starting in Carbis Bay on June 11, the South West has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase the best of its thriving technology ecosystem.
Preparations have been underway for months for the meeting of world leaders including Joe Biden, Angela Merkel and Boris Johnson on the Cornish coast. The conference’s Build Back Better slogan encapsulates an ambition to create a “greener, more prosperous future” as the world recovers from coronavirus.
So, with the eyes of the world turning to a beach resort in Cornwall, now is the time to shout about our success in the South West and the opportunities companies across the region have for creating that more prosperous society promised by the G7. Happily, many of our strongest businesses work in areas that could help guarantee a brighter future – areas such as green technology, climate science and marine technology.
We take the South West to include the broad areas of Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Cheltenham and Bristol. The selections below are skewed towards the locality of the G7 in Cornwall, but there are world-class assets connected across the region. Keep reading SWTD for latest information on the most innovative projects and start-ups in the South West.
Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, last month called on the G7 to work together to secure a green global recovery. With that in mind, his boss, the prime minister, could not be heading to a better place than the South West to learn about the clean technologies of the future. It is home to the UK’s first geothermal power plant, the United Downs Deep Geothermal Power Project, which aims to produce power from the hot granite rocks beneath Cornwall. Cornwall also boasts a bustling marine tech sector, bolstered by the recent sale of a £42m wave energy facility off the North Cornwall coast.
On a related note, discussing strategy to tackle climate change is likely to be a top priority for the G7. For greater understanding of the science, they should look no further than Exeter. The Met Office, based in the city, is building a £1.2bn supercomputer that will be among the most powerful in the world when it is completed. The project will generate data to provide more accurate warnings of severe weather and is set to bring £13bn in economic value to the South West. Meanwhile, the universities of Plymouth and Exeter offer some of the best education available in sustainability and environmental management.
Tech leaders from across the G7 signed a declaration in April agreeing to improve online safety, including commitments on human rights and protecting young people. Here in the South West, we have some of the most innovative cyber security start-ups, including Exeter's South West Cyber Resilience Centre, co-founded by serving police officer Mark Moore. Cheltenham is the epicentre of the UK's cyber security industry and is home to CyNam, Britain's biggest cyber cluster, and the Golden Valley development -- a campus for the most promising cyber firms.
You cannot talk about industries of the future without mentioning space and, on this topic, Cornwall has more to offer than most. The government provided £7.85m in funding for upgrades at Newquay Airport when Carbis Bay was announced as the conference host. It has since been revealed that some of the funding will be used to develop Spaceport Cornwall, the partnership with Virgin Orbit hoping to deliver the UK's first horizontal spaceport this year.
Some of the most cutting-edge innovation in marine technology is happening in the South West, especially in Plymouth. Plymouth Marine Laboratory is a world-leader in its field, undertaking pioneering research to create a more sustainable future for our oceans.