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South of England

The region covers the South East, the South West and the East of England. The region has the fastest employment growth in the UK and hosts a skilled workforce. It’s also home to two of the top five universities in the world – the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford, which ranks at number one (Times Higher Education - World University Rankings 2017).

The South of England has attractive cities for investors, including:

  • Bristol in the South West - over 40% of the population have degree-level qualifications (West of England LEP’s Local Economic Assessment)
  • Reading in the Thames Valley - a centre for technology-based businesses, expected to be the top UK city for GVA growth of 3.8% by 2020 (EY’s UK Regional Economic Forecast 2017)
  • Oxford - the top UK city for net private sector jobs growth (Centre For Cities’ Cities Outlook 2017)
  • Cambridge - a fast-growing economy with 50% of that growth expected to come from the high value ICT and professional service sectors by 2020 (EY’s UK Regional Economic Forecast 2017).

The South of England is home to the UK’s top regions for foreign direct investment (FDI). In 2016, the South East and South West had 318 new FDI projects - creating almost 9,000 new jobs. (DIT Inward Investment Results 2016-17).

The South of England has Enterprise Zones where businesses can benefit from discounted taxes, rate discounts up to 275,000 GBP and a simplified planning process for building offices and other facilities.

Enterprise Zones offer support for specific industry sectors. For example, Kent’s Discovery Park Enterprise Zone has a specific focus on pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, while Aerohub in Cornwall specialises in space and aerospace. Harlow’s Enterprise Zone offers three locations including the largest Data Centre development in the South East at Kao Park. The Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft Enterprise Zone offers opportunities for energy companies.

The South of England has two of the top three cities for ‘gross value added’ (GVA) per worker across the United Kingdom (71,600 GBP in Slough and Reading in Berkshire). This means that it is home to some of the most productive workers in the UK.

The South of England is also home to five Russell Group universities – an association of public universities in the UK which are world-leading in research.

The National College For Nuclear in Somerset provides a state-of-the-art nuclear training facility and is responsible for designing the UK’s nuclear curriculum in collaboration with EDF Energy, Sellafield Ltd and several UK universities.

The National Film and Television School based in Buckinghamshire is the leading centre of excellence for education in film and television programming in the UK, and includes alumni such as Nick Park, creator of Wallace & Gromit and David Yates, director of the last four Harry Potter films.

Major airports serving the region include London Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted and Bristol – serving over 160 million passengers in 2016 (Civil Aviation Authority).

There are direct east-west road connections across the region, including the M25 and the Channel Tunnel which links the South East to France.

The region boasts a substantial fast rail network connecting all of its major population centres and Europe. London to Bristol takes just over 1.5 hours and high speed Eurostar trains travel from Ashford to Paris in under 2 hours.

The new Crossrail line connecting areas to the east and west of London will be introduced in 2019 – 42km of new rail tunnels and ten brand new rail stations .

Sea ports include Southampton, Felixstowe, Bristol, London Gateway and Dover - Europe’s most popular passenger port (Eurostat 2017) accounting for 60% of the UK’s roll-on roll-off freight (DfT 2016).

There are a number of regeneration projects in South England. If you’re looking to invest in infrastructure or find facilities for your business, this could be the ideal location for you. Find out more about opportunities in South England