The South West's senior leaders met in Somerset to discuss how the region can lead and deliver for the UK economy.

The Great South West Partnership Board, housing leaders of industry, local authorities and universities met at Firepool Digital Innovation Centre in Taunton on February 8.

The group later visited Gravity, a proposed location for the UK’s first gigafactory for electric vehicle batteries, intending to create thousands of jobs.

The board also journeyed to the National College for Nuclear at Bridgwater & Taunton College to meet government officials and to deliberate on national issues.

Karl Tucker, chair of Great South West, said: "Clean energy, food and defence are critical areas for the Government and a major focus for the Great South West.

"Our industry leaders, universities and councils are a powerful alliance, united on championing the vital role we play in powering the UK through clean energy, food and defence security, and setting out the investable opportunities we have across the region."

The gathering focused on the region’s strengths in energy and high-value manufacturing.

It also explored how educational institutions adapt to major job development, such as the proposed gigafactory at Gravity.

In these discussions, valuable insight was shared by Bridgwater & Taunton College on its cooperation with EDF Energy and the Hinkley Point C development.

Somerset County Gazette: The Great South West Partnership Board includes leaders of industry, local authorities and

Neil Skelland, business development director at Atlas Elektronik UK and Great South West board member, said: "We saw what the Great South West can do at scale today through investment in people, infrastructure and reliable, clean energy; all critical to UK prosperity.

"We have many such opportunities in the South West, and our challenge is to convene and facilitate the collaborations required to convert them at pace and scale."

Chair Karl Tucker added: "Across the partnership, we are focused on key discussions with the Government and our MPs, and continuing to set out a clear case for investment and national partnerships, as we demonstrate just why the region is so critical to the UK’s security and prosperity."

The Great South West, representing Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset and the Isles of Scilly, is planning a range of key events and activities through 2024, including economic and sector insight reports, regional roadshows, and a major national conference, ‘Delivering for the UK’ at Sandy Park, Exeter, in September.