BBRC and Western Gateway announce ambition to unlock significant investment in the West and Wales

Leading impact investor BBRC and pan-regional partnership the Western Gateway have revealed their ambitions to leverage more private sector investment into Western England and South Wales to support sustainable economic growth which can support communities.

Plans were announced at a launch event in the House of Commons on Tuesday 12th December, hosted by Bristol North West MP and Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Darren Jones, and supported by Secretary of State for Wales, David Davies MP.

The event saw around 80 national and regional businesses, leaders and policy makers from the areas of net zero, devolution, levelling up and finance, with a focus on examining the best models for leveraging investment from both the public and private sectors.

BBRC officially launched a new Net Zero fund at the event and highlighted how its place-based impact investment model, which has already realised more than £60 million of investment locally, can deliver tangible results around levelling up – delivering key worker housing and realising net zero targets in a way that brings local communities and investors together.

The Western Gateway Partnership launched new research with EY to understand where the area could be doing more to attract private sector investment to fund businesses and innovation. This work will make recommendations to government by summer 2024 on how to deliver greater levels of investment into the area to help the UK create new economic growth.

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West and Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: “We have to unlock investment from private capital if we are going to get Britain building again and our economy back on track. As a Member of Parliament in the West of England, I’m delighted to have hosted investors and businesses from the region to discuss how to do just that.”

Ed Rowberry, chief executive, BBRC, said: “Locally-led practical action and catalytic investment are key to delivering impactful social and environmental outcomes. BBRC’s model transforms the way that finance delivers impact and our place-based approach means that impact is in tune with local need rather than against it.

“We are able to raise capital from investors by offering attractive risk-adjusted returns and impact outcomes, to invest in real estate, infrastructure and businesses in the South West. We’ve proven that a small amount of seed funding can go a long way – for example, Bristol City Council’s £4m commitment into our impact investment fund, City Funds, has unlocked £34m total investment in SMEs in the region.

“By working alongside Western Gateway and others, we hope to scale our model to unlock further investment in the region and tackle key issues such as housing and the climate crisis.”

John Wilkinson, director, Western Gateway, said: “South Wales and Western England is home to incredible skilled and creative communities with world-leading manufacturing, universities and high-tech clusters across engineering, cyber and low carbon energy. Despite this potential, the area struggles to attract inward investment – nearly half of the UK’s total investment goes to London, whilst just 2.9% goes to Wales and 5% to the South West.

“We believe we have the potential to become a significant channel for UK inward investment to support economic growth. That’s why the Western Gateway, in partnership with EY, is launching new research to understand where these investments gaps are and which are the most pressing. We want to bridge these gaps and deliver concrete proposals which can help the area achieve its full potential.

“We’re delighted to be including BBRC as one of our case studies, whose operational model has already shown such positive results for the West of England.”

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