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Southampton UK: Growth on Land and Sea

The city’s port has long been a source of commerce and prosperity. But the area’s universities and pro-business initiatives are what stimulate growth today.

Inbound investment in the Southampton region of the UK might seem natural, as it is familiar to British and foreign travellers who embark on leisure vacations on one of the many cruise lines that call this city on the Solent their home port.

For the most part, land investment funds do not have much to do with cruise ships and the sea. What happens on terra firma keeps working while others are on holiday. The largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire, Southampton and its economy have some key strengths spread over a broad base of different industries.

Those industries include aerospace, the Southampton Airport (1.76 million passengers and 43 European destinations), the Port of Southampton (cargo shipping in addition to passenger excursions), defence, advanced manufacturing, rail and truck transport and logistics.

These are industries that require a high concentration of skilled workers, which the several local universities help provide. They include the University of Southampton, Southampton Solent University, University of Portsmouth and the University of Winchester. The impact of these institutions of learning is that they provide, in general, qualified employees. But it goes beyond that. Several recent examples about how these schools enable economic strength and stimulus are:

  • The University of Southampton received £10 million from the UK Research Partnership Investment fund in 2013 to further enhance the school’s position as a leading centre of excellence for engineering. These funds are specifically earmarked for research in marine, aerospace, rail and structural engineering.

  • The University also is found to have GVA (gross value added) and job impacts in several regards: £2.0 billion GVA and 26,540 jobs as of 2013.

  • The university sponsored ground-breaking research that contributes to the £100 million photonics cluster of companies in the region.

  • The maritime sector of the local economy anticipates a £8 billion growth in the eight years leading up to 2020, thanks in part to the University of Southampton’s collaboration with the National Oceanography Centre.

Apart from the contributions of the academic and research sector, businesses in and around Southampton show a strong relationship with future growth. Those who make alternative investments in land should know that more than 110 hectares of land are designated for development as strategic employment sites. Also, a Solent Enterprise Zone has a £27 million infrastructure package that is in the process of crating 800 jobs. Extant companies are already quite recognisable: IBM, Astrium, B&Q, Boeing, BAE Systems, Carnival UK, EADS, Lloyds Register Group, Lockheed Martin, QinetiQ, Skandia and Zurich.

So while investors are naturally aware of the opportunities in the maritime and educational sectors, both of those actually feed adjacent and supplier industries as well. With job growth, new homes are needed, so land development and homebuilding are favoured in the local economy.

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