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Left to right Stephen Mariadas SWIOT CEO Andy Correy Babcock Head of Production Prof Janice Kay

From left to right - Stephen Mariadas (SWIOT CEO), Andy Correy (Babcock, Head of Production), Prof Janice Kay (Provost of the University of Exeter)

Partners sign multi-million pound deal for South West Institute of Technology (SWIOT)

A multimillion pound partnership that will revolutionise digital technology education across the South West has been given the green light.

Partners involved in the South West Institute of Technology (SWIOT), including the University of Exeter, have signed an agreement that will trigger significant new investment for the region.

The new Institute of Technology will train thousands of students in technical subjects across the South West region, bringing unparalleled new skills development and career opportunities.

It’s one of 12 new IOT’s across the country, funded by the Department for Education (DfE) through a £170 million investment, to deliver a range of higher level courses across the digital, engineering and manufacturing sectors.

Funding for the new Institute of Technology create a series of new buildings across the region, including a £3.1 million facility on the University of Exeter’s Streatham Campus containing an Artificial Intelligence Arena, and Computer Learning Laboratory.

Professor Janice Kay, Provost of the University of Exeter said:  “The University of Exeter is proud to partner with other education providers and employers for the benefit of thousands of students across the South West. Planned for 12 in total, Institutes of Technology are nationally significant multi-million pound initiatives.  They will provide the best training to raise regional productivity and economic growth in technical skills.  Through new specialist facilities, the University will deliver exciting technical education in digital and advanced engineering, benefitting from its leading status as a science university and a member of the national Alan Turing Institute.”

The SWIOT is a unique collaboration between a number of partner organisations including, University of Plymouth, Bridgwater & Taunton College, City College Plymouth, Exeter College, Petroc and Truro & Penwith College.

Each partner organisation is investing in the development of state-of-the-art facilities for training in technical subjects to create Britain’s next generation of highly skilled technicians and engineers. 

Funding from the SWIOT will help support the development of a new multi-million-pound Digital and Data Centre on Exeter College’s Hele Road site. The new state-of-the-art facility, which is match-funded by the college, will provide learners with opportunities in the digital sector, including courses around data analysis, cyber security and software development.

The SWIOT also draws on expertise from a group of ‘anchor employers’ who will lead its strategic direction and ensure focus on the latest industry skills – they include Oxygen House and the Met Office in Exeter, Babcock in Plymouth and TDK Lambda in Ilfracombe, with investment from the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) for the Heart of the South West and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Catering for up to 2,500 students in apprenticeship and full-time courses, from post-16 to Masters degree level, the SWIOT’s combined facilities will match the best available in the UK and help put the South West region at the forefront of digital and engineering education.

They will include virtual and augmented reality environments, digital learning laboratories, artificial intelligence arenas, new clean workspaces, workshops, emergent manufacturing spaces with industry level equipment, and shared learning spaces.

Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP), Steve Hindley, said: “The partnership agreement marks a major milestone in establishing the South West Institute of Technology; bringing together our area’s outstanding colleges, leading universities and some of our strongest businesses to deliver the skills our economy needs today and into the future. HotSW LEP looks forward to working with the SWIOT to deliver critical technical skills for our digital and engineering sectors, as well as new opportunities for additional growth, better jobs and stretching prosperity across our community”.

John Laramy, Exeter College Principal and Chief Executive, said: “Exeter College is delighted that the collective Institute of Technology submission for the South West has been successful, this shows what we can achieve when businesses, universities and colleges all work together as one. The Exeter component of the Institute of Technology focuses on digital, data and the high level skills required by employers in the Exeter area, we are therefore delighted that the Met Office and Oxygen House were a key part of the successful bid.”

Date: 14 October 2019