Getting Building Fund boosting economic growth in Bucks

“Our most innovative industries will benefit from the government’s investment in Buckinghamshire as part of the plan to help get Britain building. This will strengthen the county’s connectivity and creativity, help drive the local economy and support jobs.”  Minister of State for Digital and Culture, Caroline Dinenage MP.

Getting Building Fund investment is creating hundreds of new jobs and opportunities for training and providing facilities for education and space for new businesses to develop their ideas.

This funding is driving economic recovery and supports the continued delivery of Buckinghamshire’s Local Industrial Strategy and growth within our four key sectors, Upstream Space, Creative and Digital, Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing and Medical Technology and Health.

Bucks LEP are delighted that funding has been successfully allocated to all the projects to the deadline of 31 March 2022, and these are now proceeding with many already completed and fully operational.

The original allocation of £7.7m of the Government’s Getting Building Fund leveraged over £14.5m of private match funding, which resulted in a total capital investment of £22.5m.

European Astrotech are proud to be recipients of Getting Building Funding, which is supporting the establishment of the Centre of Excellence for Rocket Engine and Flow Tests Facility at Westcott. This investment by Bucks LEP will strengthen our competitive advantage and opens up the next stage in the evolution of the Westcott site to attract new business and investment to this world-class centre of excellence in space propulsion.” Sam Green, Operations Director at European Astrotech Limited

Project summaries and progress updates:

The new Disruptive Innovation for Space Centre (DISC), Building 4000, opened during the Westcott Space Expo in July 2022, providing 2,387sqm of innovation space and facilities. Through the grant agreement, Bucks LEP has committed to work with Satellite Applications Catapult and other partners to fully develop these new facilities – increasing business activity, employment, and skills opportunities through the Satellite Applications Catapult’s current and future workstreams and programmes. This includes the Westcott Accelerator fund to support new business and SME’s with the development of innovative new products and services for the growing space sector.

Bucks LEP have committed to lead the development of the business case for the next phase of the DISC, during 2023, working with Patrizia, Satellite Applications Catapult and other key partners.

Stuart Martin, CEO at the Satellite Applications Catapult, said: “We are really pleased to be able to further expand our offering to support the growing community of space businesses at Westcott, with both cutting-edge equipment and the knowledge and expertise of our teams.

“Activity at Westcott in recent years reflects the burgeoning excitement within the space sector, with companies seeing an ever-growing range of new commercial opportunities. We are delighted to be part of this development journey and working alongside the Westcott Venture Park and Buckinghamshire LEP to build the space community here.”

The Bucks LEP Board approved in July 2020, the £2m Getting Building Fund grant for this scheme.

Latest news

The Satellite Applications Catapult is pleased to announce the first ever acquisition of an additive manufacturing system for the benefit of the UK Space Sector. The new MetalFAB1 has been acquired as part of an investment from the Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership, through the Getting Building Fund, and is installed at the Satellite Applications Catapult’s Disruptive Innovation for Space Centre at Westcott Venture Park where it is now available for UK companies to use.

To view a video showing the MetalFab1 Additive Manufacturing System in operation, click here

Getting Building Funds (GBF) are split across two separate programmes.

A total of £1.01m GBF grant funding is supporting two programmes: the Gigabit Voucher Top Up which is delivered through the National DCMS programme; and the Buckinghamshire Council, Bucks Rural Business Broadband contract with Openreach, funded through the DEFRA European grant programme.

Over 1,200 new Gigabit broadband services are being delivered to rural communities and businesses through the DCMS Gigabit Top Up and Phase 3 Bucks Rural Business Broadband programme, which is due to be completed by March 2023.

The Gigabit Voucher top up scheme is delivering over 590 rural business and residential premises with Gigabit capable broadband connectivity.

Bucks LEP Board approved in July 2021, the £1.01m Getting Building Fund grant for this scheme.

For further information go to the Broadband in Buckinghamshire website.

European Astrotech are proud to be recipients of Getting Building Funding, which is supporting the establishment of the Centre of Excellencefor Rocket Engine and Flow Tests Facilityat Westcott. This investment by Bucks LEP will strengthen our competitive advantage and opens up the next stage in the evolution of the Westcott site to attract new business and investment to this world-class centre of excellence in space propulsion.” Sam Green, Operations Director at European Astrotech Limited

European Astrotech identified a requirement to develop and qualify a Centre of Excellence for Rocket Engine and Flow Tests Facility (CEREFT). The new laboratory, cleanroom and training facilities were completed in 2022, securing the future of this highly successful and specialist business based at Westcott.

European Astrotech are a UK based company that specialise in offering unique testing and training facilities around rocket fuel, and safety training for international launch campaigns.

European Astrotech have conducted testing on the fuels used for several launch campaigns including the SpaceX Transport4, launched on 1st April 2022. Over 200 engineers and technicians from industry and universities across the UK have been trained at the new facilities at Westcott during 2022.

This project has generated interest of the UK Space Agency and the development of the Plastron proposal to create a new regional space cluster linking Westcott to the South and South West space hubs. In January 2023, Bucks LEP approved further financial contribution to support to Plastron to support development of the strategy and business case for submission in January 2023 as part of the national multi-million Space Cluster Investment Fund.

In partnership, Bucks LEP, PASD, EAL and Plastron have been developing a novel strategy for a new, cross-regional Space Cluster. This opportunity will harness strengths already commercially and academically available to introduce four foundation initiatives that will increase economic resilience for existing space engineering activities. It will also establish the functional infrastructure for emerging opportunities, where investment today will place UK-based capabilities in a global context within the coming decade.

Bucks LEP Board approved in May 2021, the £740k Getting Building Fund grant for this scheme which was fully operational by July 2022.

Getting Building Funds are supporting the expansion of the UK space sector offer at Westcott, by accelerating the delivery of three additional capabilities to support longer term ambitions at the Westcott Enterprise Zone:

  • In Orbit Servicing & Manufacturing (IOSM) – Robotic facility
  • Metal Additive Manufacturing (MAM) – FAB 1
  • Agri/ Healthy Living Lab Space – Unit B

Total GBF investment – £2,609,530

Activity in these industry leading world class facilities, based in DISC Building 4000, has increased over recent months, with the Satellite Applications Catapult recruiting additional resources to provide technical support and manage access to the facilities, including the In Orbit Service & Manufacturing (IOSM), Metal Additive Manufacturing, Agri & Health Living Labs, and the new Drone Port.

The drone test facility has attracted significant interest from the industry, with Skyports taking up the first commercial lease within the unique facilities at Westcott, creating 11 new jobs at the site. The Satellite Applications Agri/Health Living lab is already actively engaged with 40 businesses through their business support and innovation workstreams at Westcott.

Bucks LEP Board approved in May 2021, the £2.6m Getting Building Fund grant for this scheme which is now completed.

For further information please visit the Westcott Space Cluster site.

Latest news

Airbus Defence and Space tested their VISPA Robotic Arm at the In Orbit Servicing & Manufacturing Test Facilities, supported through investment from the Getting Building Fund Programme.

The robots and travel track allowed for Airbus to simulate close-proximity and approach, as well as inspection, repair and maintenance manoeuvres to test potential future activities for the VISPA within assembly concept and space manufacturing. Check out the video!

“Flannery are proud to be recipients of GBF funding, which will support the establishment of the Bucks Operator Skills Hub. This will support local people to access the skills required to get sustainable employment in the Construction sector, specifically linked to the many construction projects in Bucks.” Paul Skitt, Skills Development Director, Flannery Plant.

Bucks LEP Getting Building Funding has created a new specialist skills facility to support local training needs and provide upskilling within the construction plant industry. The focus is on ensuring local people can access the apprenticeship programme and take advantage of the training and employment opportunities this hub will provide, including future skill areas such as GPS training, virtual reality plant simulators and remote management systems on the most advanced construction equipment.

Mobile training facilities were delivered and fully operational by autumn 2022. One training unit is based at HS2’s compound in Westbury, the other facility providing a dedicated mobile training and outreach resource in Buckinghamshire to boost construction skills and meet the high demand for local and regional jobs.

The Skills Hub project outcomes are all driven by an ambition to create local sustainable employment opportunities in support of regional infrastructure projects such as HS2 and the East West Rail Network route.

Bucks LEP will continue to work with Flannery and partners to develop rollout of mobile outreach and construction related training programmes over the next two years. In addition, Bucks LEP investment helped to secure Flannery’s successful £2.6m DfE Skills Bootcamp bid.

For further information click here.

Bucks LEP Board approved in May 2021, the £750k Getting Building Fund grant for this scheme which was delivered in autumn 2022.

Welcome to the Operator Skills Hub – YouTube

URA Thrusters is a spin-off company from AVS UK with the only goal to commercialise the use of water for space transportation and propulsion. AVS is an international SME and EN9100 supplier of the majority of worldwide space primes -Airbus, TAS, OHB, RAFAEL, Virgin Orbit, SSTL, CubeSat primes, etc.

URA Thrusters brand new test facility at Westcott, is undergoing final stages of commissioning with installation of vacuum chambers and equipment to enable testing and development of their pioneering water-based satellite propulsion systems. Preparations being made for full scale commercial production and supply of systems for satellite launch campaigns within the next 18 to 24 months.

URA Thrusters have recently secured a £7.5m contract from the European Space Agency to support their R&D programme for the next two years. Bucks LEP will continue to work in partnership with AVS, URA Thrusters and site owners Patrizia to develop their future plans for a further 125,000 sq ft building on the adjacent land (Plot 8000), in the Enterprise Zone, creating a further 150 jobs over the next two years.

URA Thrusters is developing a commercial range of water propulsion systems (ICE) for Reaction and Attitude Control Systems (RACS) of a brand-new reconfigurable 3,000 kg GEO spacecraft from Airbus. This brad-new transnationally platform from Airbus has already won several commercial contracts from worldwide operators, including Inmarsat, Intelsat and Optus.

ICE thrusters are the most suitable option to replace standard hydrazine toxic RACS with “green” alternatives for large platforms, and at the same time provide 20-30% cost reduction and operational benefits to space platform and mission providers.

Bucks LEP Board approved in May 2021, the £250k Getting Building Fund grant for the Novel Test Facility at Westcott.

Bucks LEP invested £365k Getting Building Funding in Lunaz’s new building at Silverstone Tech Cluster. The innovation space, battery storage and test facility was completed in late 2021, and trials commenced on prototype EV Waste Vehicle in Q4 2021/22.

Bucks LEP support has enabled Lunaz to secure a contract and additional funding, through Buckinghamshire Council, to deliver the UK’s first fleet of retro fitted EV Waste Vehicles as part of a pilot scheme in Buckinghamshire.

Global governments, including the United Kingdom, have announced bans on the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles by 2030. This is what the world requires to de-carbonise and provide a clean-air future presenting a potent commercial opportunity to build a clean-tech firm and create jobs and positive economic activity in the Buckinghamshire area.

The Directors of Lunaz have identified market potential in the extension of its EV proprietary powertrains and re-engineering approach to much wider industrial applications.

The LEP investment has also supported Lunaz’s rapid expansion plans at Silverstone, including their new additional 100,000 sq ft of production and assembly space within the Enterprise Zone for their commercial vehicle fleet. During the last nine months Lunaz have created over 140 new highly skilled jobs.

Bucks LEP Board approved in May 2021, the £365k Getting Building Fund grant for this scheme.

The project will expand the standard 24-fibre cable provision required for railway operations to a 432-fibre spine – the additional capacity will provide a step-change in digital connectivity that is able to:

  • Deliver backhaul services to enable local providers to deliver gigabit and superfast broadband to rural communities along the Bicester to Bletchley section of East West Rail via fixed and wireless connectivity, including Little Horwood, Mursley, Newton Longville, Charndon, Twyford and Winslow.
  • Enable increased mast connectivity for mobile network operators to extend mobile services including 5G to the surrounding areas.
  • Support the aspiration to provide gigabit-capable connectivity to the region.

The project will deliver improved digital connectivity where commercial competition has failed to deliver infrastructure investment. It will provide 21,600 premises with gigabit-capable broadband.

The project is time-critical: the project will deliver the fibre upgrade as part of the construction of the Bicester to Bletchley section of East West Rail. Construction of this section is now underway. Delivery of the fibre upgrade in this way can be achieved at one-tenth of the cost of retrofitting the capability after the railway becomes operational.

Bucks LEP is continuing to work with England’s Economic Heartland, East West Rail and Network Rail to develop rural broadband solutions during construction phase of the rail link between Bicester and Bletchley and engage other partners to develop new products and services.

Bucks LEP Board approved in May 2021, the £643k Getting Building Fund grant for this scheme which is due to be completed in 2023/24, in line with the East West Rail programme.

“We are absolutely delighted that the Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership has chosen to support D2H Advanced Technologies’ innovative and pioneering work in brake testing and research through their Getting Building Fund programme. Such grant funding will be instrumental in helping us deliver a market leading service for the mobility sector.” Chris Hebert, Engineering Director at D2H Advanced Technologies.

D2H Advanced Technologies is part of the D2H Group, an engineering service provider founded in 2015. D2H delivers the highest levels of engineering and technology in a wide range of sectors – motorsport, automotive, Olympic sports, high-spec industrial machinery and high-fidelity test equipment.

This project will result in further growth for D2H, providing additional employment for up to three new FTE jobs and five safeguarded in high technology, high value areas such as mechanical design, control systems, and electronics for project delivery, and with an estimated five new hires retained for ABF management and operation after project completion.

Bucks LEP Board approved in May 2021, the £113k Getting Building Fund grant for this scheme.

Bucks LEP Getting Building Fund Impact