GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership put on another cracking show for its annual review.
While the location, at the University of Gloucestershire’s new Business School, although gorgeous, was slightly less rocking and edgy than in previous years, (The GFirst roadshow has travelled to the M5 Gloucester Services, Rush Skate Park near Stroud [that was a cold one], and a large hangar at Gloucestershire Airport, among other venues), the organising team pulled it out of the bag by echoing the iconic spoof James Bond film made to launch the 2012 London Olympics
Instead of the Queen and 007 heading from Buckingham Palace to a helicopter, from which they daringly parachuted into the Olympic Stadium, the GFirst 2019 version included racing across the landscape in an electric car, supplied by Cleveley Electric Vehicles, and a plane ride to Gloucestershire Airport.
However, as the short film came to a climax, GFirst chair, Diane Savory and CEO, David Owen (aka 007?), avoided the parachuting bit, instead appearing sedately on the staircase above the main stage in the business school’s main atrium to kick start the afternoon’s event.
Over the years this magazine has attended Local Enterprise Partnership annual events across the region, and Gloucestershire’s investment in pizzazz and spectacle always makes us smile. It’s great to see creativity in action.
The event was hosted by University of Gloucestershire’s Vice Chancellor Stephen Marston. He pointed out that the new Business School is a UK first in that it has co-located a regional Growth Hub within the university, to actively drive enterprise within the student community.
Keynote speaker at this year’s GFirts LEP Review was Jeremy Fleming, Director of GCHQ, which is celebrating its centenary in November this year.
With GCHQ as one of the town’s biggest employers (around 6,000 people work at the famous ‘doughnut’ at Benhall) Cheltenham has big ambitions to become a global cyber centre, which could bring hundreds of millions of pounds into the region’s economy.
Aside from Cheltenham’s cyber ambitions, of particular note was GFirst’s announcement that it will be attending MIPIM in March 2020 – the world’s biggest real estate convention in Cannes, South of France. Following in the footsteps of other regional LEPS, including Worcestershire, Coventry & Warwickshire and Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire will be represented on the global stage, with the objective of actively driving inward investment into the county.
Also at the review, GFirst LEP launched its draft Local Industrial Strategy, this will guide future action and investment in Gloucestershire, its main focus is to improve productivity.
With other neighbouring LEPs and councils, GFirst LEP are also exploring an emerging collaboration being promoted as the ‘Great Western Powerhouse’ – stretching roughly from Swindon to Swansea, including Gloucestershire. This is being described in a report by Metro Dynamics as ‘a powerhouse waiting to happen, with significant economic scale and shared sectoral and innovation strengths.’