Locate in Kent Chief Executive Gavin Cleary gives his perspective on regional economic success, the STEM agenda, and the next wave of technological change.

Locate in Kent exists to promote Kent and Medway to businesses looking to trade from the county and to support the growth and development of companies already here.

Innovative projects like the Kent and Medway Engineering, Design, Growth and Enterprise (EDGE) Hub, are a key part of our armoury in persuading businesses to move or expand here. The EDGE Hub will contribute to the next generation of talent with the skills required to power the county’s future, particularly in advanced manufacturing, engineering, technology and the life sciences.

Our job is to make Kent and Medway stand out to investors, when comparing other business regions in the UK and globally. The work being done to link industry with further and higher education, pushing forward the STEM agenda in the county, makes our lives a lot easier. It also sets the standard for what the government is seeking to achieve through its industrial strategy; putting this dynamic region in a great place for the industries of tomorrow.

Businesses will have many reasons for deciding where they locate their business and while connectivity, cost and quality of life all play their part, in technical sectors the availability of a skilled workforce is vital. We’re lucky to have a long-established heritage for innovation. The work now being done by Kent and Medway EDGE Hub and others is putting Kent and Medway in a great place to embrace the next wave of technological change.

In many ways, Kent and Medway is already set up for Industry 4.0, the next industrial revolution. At present nearly half (49.8%) of all manufacturing enterprises in Kent and Medway are focused on the advanced engineering subsector, making a vital contribution to the jobs of the future with an estimated £3.2 billion GVA in 2016.

The life science sector in Kent and Medway meanwhile is also expanding with Kent Medical Campus and Innovation Park, Medway the latest key strategic sites to come on stream. The Thames Estuary Production Corridor is also a great example of the opportunities ahead for Kent for the creative and digital industries. More than a third (35.7%) of people working in this sector in Kent specialise in IT, Software and Computer Services. That is only going to grow further.

With access to an expanding ecosystem of life science, technology and engineering businesses the locally grown pool of highly educated talent that is being built will help ensure Kent and Medway is recognised as THE place in the UK for business success.