The importance of full fibre broadband to the growth of the Swindon and Wiltshire economy was laid out at a meeting in the town.
IT and communications firm Excalibur hosted the Business West Swindon Business & Economy Meeting, with CEO Peter Boucher talking about the CityFibre project – of which Excalibur is a partner – which is seeing wholesale full fibre infrastructure rolled out across the town.
Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership manager Paddy Bradley explained how full fibre broadband fits into the local industrial strategy. He said it was an important piece of the puzzle if Swindon is going to meet the grand challenges laid out by central government.
He also stressed the need for increased R&D activity if the region is to thrive under the fourth industrial revolution.
At present, Dyson accounts for the majority of R&D spend in Swindon & Wiltshire, said Paddy, who identified the lack of university and a science park in the region as one of the main barriers to upping the level of R&D locally.
He suggested that the best approach to overcoming this hurdle would involve public and private sector partners working together in priority sectors for the region.
The meeting also heard from Philippa Venables, head of strategic growth and Place at Swindon Borough Council, who gave a wide-ranging overview of current economic development initiatives in the borough, including Kimmerfields, the Fleming Way bus boulevard, the station arrival quarter, Swindon Cultural Quarter and Wichelstowe.
And Ian Larrard, director of Business West's Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative, announced the organisation's partnership with the inaugural festival of science and technology in Swindon.
The Tomorrow festival will bring together government, industry and leading universities to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.
“We’re proud to be supporting this exciting project, which is shaping up to be a fantastic celebration of the innovation in Swindon and the region,” said Ian.
“Swindon employers are at the forefront of tackling our greatest challenges and opportunities, from climate change and vehicles of the future, to the future of medicine.
"Inspiring young people into STEM subjects is critical to Swindon’s future prosperity, which is why we’re encouraging all local businesses to get involved.”