Public Sector

Published: March 29, 2021 | Updated: March 31, 2021

Living better: roadmap aims to deliver £24bn boost and 48,000 new jobs over next decade

The proposed Medtech (medical technology) Science Park at Wessex Fields, Bournemouth, will bring together health research, education and industry to be a global leader in health innovation, especially for healthy ageing.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

An investment roadmap has been published aimed at delivering a £24 billion pound boost to Dorset’s economy and 48,000 new jobs over the next ten years.

The Dorset Living Better investment prospectus presents an ambitious portfolio of investment opportunities across the areas covered by BCP Council and Dorset Council.

In the next decade it aims to deliver:

  • a £24 billion uplift to the local economy
  • 48,000 jobs
  • 480,000 sq m of new commercial floorspace
  • 8,600 new homes

All while protecting and enhancing Dorset’s environment.

It sets out how Dorset can embrace technology to be at the forefront of confronting some of humanity’s biggest challenges – from an ageing population, to sustainable food production, to tackling climate change and cyber security – while also growing the local economy.

The roadmap details how key sectors in the Dorset economy including health, finance, defence and aquaculture can evolve and attract new investment, and why 5G connectivity is a vital catalyst for innovation, social inclusion and wellbeing.

It focuses on why some of Dorset’s unique attributes, including an older population, one of the best integrated care systems in England, and an outstanding natural environment, can be harnessed for social good and economic gain.

Ambitions include:

  • Delivery of the proposed Medtech (medical technology) Science Park at Wessex Fields, Bournemouth, bringing together health research, education and industry to be a global leader in health innovation, especially for healthy ageing.
  • The creation of a National Aquaculture Centre of Excellence and an offshore aquaculture park to tap a global £173bn market for sustainably farmed fish, shellfish, aquatic plants and algae, and build on Dorset’s national status as a ‘High Potential Opportunity’ for aquaculture investment.
  • Developing Dorset’s defence and cyber security cluster, working with the Army’s BattleLab Defence Innovation Centre at Winfrith, to develop new products and technologies that could be commercialised. This is considered especially relevant following the latest defence review and commitment to invest £23bn in new technology.

Work on the prospectus began last summer and has been driven by the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), working closely with local authorities, business, education and environment groups.

Cecilia Bufton, Chair of the Dorset LEP, pictured left, said: “This prospectus is about how Dorset can evolve and innovate its economy to accelerate positive change, especially in the wake of coronavirus.

“We want Dorset to be an exporter of new thinking, a place where new approaches are tested, proven, and transferred, supporting our economy, environment and communities in the process.”

BCP Council Leader, Drew Mellor, pictured right, said: “There is a real opportunity for Dorset to live better in the wake of the pandemic and emerge stronger and more resilient.

“This prospectus focuses on how we can bring those benefits to all our communities and be at the centre of a global recovery.”

Dorset Council leader Spencer Flower, pictured left, said: “Some of the biggest challenges of our age – from an ageing population to climate change to sustainable food production – come together in Dorset as opportunities to grow knowledge, investment and wellbeing.

“We must grasp that opportunity.”

Ian Girling, Chief Executive of Dorset Chamber, pictured right, said: “The business community has a vital role to play in creating wealth and jobs in Dorset and will welcome this prospectus, setting out as it does a roadmap to recovery and beyond that embraces new technology and builds on our strengths.”

The prospectus is divided into four key themes which span Smart, Wellbeing, Natural and Living.

Each theme details Dorset’s current strengths and future opportunities with some immediate ‘asks’ of government.

They include:

  • Formal recognition of the Bournemouth Christchurch Poole City Region
  • Creation of a ‘Smart Challenge Fund’ to help businesses exploit new technologies
  • Rural Productivity Deal to support the rural economy
  • Digital Skills Partnership to co-ordinate digital skills provision.

The prospectus will help inform future bids to the government’s £1.5bn regional Shared Prosperity Fund which is launched next year and, more immediately, to the £220m pilot scheme called the Community Renewal Fund, details of which were published in the Chancellor’s Spring Budget.

The Dorset Living Better investment prospectus is available to download at investindorset.com