Ariel Motor Company Managing Director Simon Saunders. Photo by Neil Phillips

Ambitious businesses are benefiting from the South West Growth Fund, an £8.7million fund that is set to create 1,136 new jobs. Ninety businesses across the region, from Gloucestershire to Cornwall, have now received grants of up to £1million to improve infrastructure and accelerate their growth.

Supported by the Regional Growth Fund (RGF), the South West Growth Fund was secured by the University of Plymouth’s GAIN team, SWMAS Ltd, South West Water Business and the Western Morning News. It has funded transformational projects in businesses – primarily in the manufacturing, marine and digital sectors.

The grants, which will be the final round of RGF investment for the region, are predicted to generate a further £80.7million of investment from the businesses, their shareholders and lenders.

The successful businesses also received free water and energy audits provided by South West Water Business as a continuation of their mission to help regional businesses be more efficient.

Eligible manufacturing businesses have also accessed expert advice from SWMAS Ltd manufacturing specialists. SWMAS Ltd has provided independent technical knowledge and practical training for staff, helping firms make informed investment decisions and then supporting the deployment of new technologies into their production processes.

Adrian Dawson, Director of Research and Innovation at the University of Plymouth, said: 

“The South West Growth Fund has supported 90 ambitious businesses to achieve their growth plans. The investment has provided a huge boost to the South West economy by creating more than 1,000 new jobs. I am delighted that the University of Plymouth has once again played a key role in securing RGF investment for the region, supporting innovation and creating highly skilled jobs. The success of the scheme will be reflected in the continued growth of the region’s economy.”
Simon Howes, Managing Director at SWMAS, said: 

“The South West Growth Programme has been well received by the region’s manufacturing businesses and we are proud to have supported so many businesses. The unique combination of capital investment assistance with expert support and advice on implementation delivered by our manufacturing experts has helped to make this programme a success for those taking part.”
Richard Stanbrook, Director of South West Water Business, added: 

“At South West Water Business, and across the Pennon Group, we are delighted to have been a part of this fantastic initiative: supporting the creation of more than 1,000 new jobs by securing investment for our region and helping our customers to grow their businesses. We’re very pleased that we were also able to help many of these businesses to use water and energy more efficiently, which will save them time and money, whilst helping to preserve our precious natural resources. We encourage all businesses to review their usage and if they need support in doing so, we are more than happy to help.”
South West Water Business is part of Pennon Group, a key partner in the Western Morning News’ #BacktheSouthWest campaign to promote future growth, opportunities and prosperity in the South West.

Bill Martin, Editor of the Western Morning News said: 

“The Western Morning News is delighted to be associated with the South West Growth Fund and the level of investment and job creation it brings. Promoting prosperity for the region is a key message of our #BackTheSouthWest campaign and we are proud to see opportunities being made a reality as a result of this funding.”

Investment speeds up growth for Somerset sports car manufacturer

The South West Growth Fund has helped Ariel Motor Company create more space to build its world-famous vehicles. The Somerset manufacturer needed a larger production space to meet growing demand for its iconic sports cars and motorcycles.

Based in Crewkerne, Ariel Motor Company builds approximately 125 vehicles a year. With a 150-year heritage, beginning with the creation of a bicycle – the Ariel Ordinary – the firm produces a range of sports cars, including the Ariel Atom, which TV personality James May described as “one of the great motoring experiences of my life”. While most of its customers are based in the UK, the company has a growing international reputation and now sells all over the world, including America and Japan.

The £30,180 investment enabled Ariel Motor Company to relocate its stores to a new mezzanine floor. This allowed the firm to create a much larger production space for building and servicing vehicles as well as investing in some new machinery. The work was completed in May and will enable the company to create seven new jobs.

The investment will help Ariel Motor Company attain vital European standards, increasing its export opportunities. The firm is also investing significant time and resource into the research and development of innovative new vehicle technologies. 

Neil Yates, Project Manager for Ariel Motor Company, said: 

“The biggest challenge we faced last year was lack of space. The South West Growth Fund has helped us overcome that and has been crucial to our expansion. With an 18-month waiting list for of our vehicles, the investment was essential to create the space we need to meet demand. The University of Plymouth team were extremely helpful and very easy to deal with. The additional space has made a massive difference to our productivity. The future looks very exciting for Ariel Motor Company. We may be a small manufacturer working in Somerset, but we operate at the cutting edge of vehicle technology.”

Grant helps Devon dairy business scoop supermarket contracts

The South West Growth Fund has helped a Devon dairy business expand into supermarkets. The £85,000 investment has helped Langage Farm to win a national contract to supply a leading UK supermarket with its yoghurts.

The grant is also helping the firm, which is located just a few miles east of Plymouth, expand its team from 50 to 60 people by 2019. 

Well known in the South West, Langage Farm produces more than 100 different ice creams, creams, cheeses and yogurts. The South West Growth Fund is now helping the business get its name out nationally. 

The grant enabled the business to invest in new machinery to create layered yogurts in glass jars. This means the firm can now pitch a high-end yoghurt product to national chains. With the first major contract in place, Langage Farm is now in discussion with a number of other retailers about its luxury product.

Langage Farm Managing Director Paul Winterton said: 

“Securing the South West Growth Fund has helped us develop a new product line, which is opening up lots of doors. Glass is seen as niche packaging for dairy products, so this gives us the edge when we talk to national retailers. It has been instrumental in helping us pitch to new customers. This is just one way in which we are working with the University of Plymouth. We have been working with their Electron Microscopy Centre and have a Knowledge Transfer Partnership to understand more about the science behind our products. It has also been brilliant to work with their Marketing students to get new insights into how to present our products to consumers. The University of Plymouth is just a font of opportunity and we are so grateful for their support.”

New production facility ‘final piece in the jigsaw’ for Torbay shellfish business

Securing a grant from the South West Growth Fund has enabled a Torbay shellfish business to relocate its production facility. With all of its processing now on one site, The Blue Sea Food Company can deliver more of its shellfish products to national and international food wholesalers.

The Paignton firm previously had to process its crab and lobster at the harbourside before moving it to its main site at Torbay Business Park. Thanks to the £224,372 investment, The Blue Sea Food Company has rebuilt its unit internally and is expanding externally. Now, all of the sustainably-caught shellfish is taken straight up to its main site where it is processed, packaged and sent off to customers, who then sell to restaurants.

The work was completed in August and the firm says the improvements are helping it to make more of its crab and lobster products, which it supplies to food wholesalers. With a seasonal team ranging from 100 to 180, The Blue Sea Food Company is aiming to recruit a further 30 staff members by March 2019.

The company has also used the funding to invest in new cooking and cooling equipment. The team is now focused on exploring new product lines for the restaurant market.

Richard Chatfield, Director of Finance for The Blue Sea Food Company, said: “The South West Growth Fund has enabled us to significantly improve the quality of our products and our factory standards. We are really proud of our high quality Devon crab products and our sparkling new production facilities mean we can better service our growing network of customers. We have been focused on upgrading our premises for the last few years and the new production facility is the final big piece of the jigsaw.”

New facility keeps Cornish business at the forefront of audio mixing industry

A £230,695 South West Growth Fund grant has helped to create 21 new high level jobs in Cornwall. Internationally renowned creator of audio mixing systems, Allen & Heath secured the funding to refit part of its building into a state-of-the-art research and development (R&D) centre.

With a heritage incorporating Genesis, Pink Floyd and The Who, Allen & Heath products have been used by stars including Adele, Pete Tong, Frank Ocean, Morrissey and Rita Ora, as well as being installed in clubs, studios, theatres and houses of worship across the globe. Allen & Heath is part of Audiotonix, a UK group of pro audio companies, which also comprises the other leading brands, Calrec and DiGiCo.

Through the South West Growth Fund investment, the Penryn firm has appointed 15 new engineers and four members of its technical product marketing team. Four of the new recruits are University of Plymouth graduates. The firm now has 52 R&D engineers, developing new products for the firm’s global customer base. From its base at Kernick Industrial Estate, the firm is particularly focused on developing new audio systems for venues with multiple spaces, such as conference centres.

Managing Director of Allen & Heath Dr Rob Clark said: 

“The South West Growth Fund has allowed us to refit our building to create a state-of-the-art R&D centre. It’s a bigger and better space – an amazing building that is perfectly suited to how our engineers work. Recruiting people with the right skill set has always been a challenge. Over the last few months, it has been very rewarding to attract new talent to Allen & Heath and to show people that Cornwall is a wonderful place to live and work. We are really fortunate to have the University of Plymouth just down the road, providing us with graduates who are highly skilled in software and hardware engineering. The South West Growth Fund has been a fantastic lever to grow the business.”