The Southwest of England


According to latest figures, the regional economy was worth £97.8 billion in 2008 - 7.8% of the total UK economy. This was a nominal increase of 3.7% on the 2007 value. GVA per head was £18,782 in the same year. The Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and North Somerset (GWNS) area continued to contribute the majority of regional output - 53% in total.

The South West of England builds on the UK's strengths as a place to do business – and adds some more of its own. The result is one of the best business environments in Europe.

  • A strong economy - the UK has had one of the highest GDP growth rates in Europe, well above the European and Eurozone averages. (Source: OECD).
  • One of the most flexible labour markets in the world - the World Bank ranks the UK as the second best place in Europe to employ workers, just behind Denmark. (Source: World Bank).
  • World leader in innovation - the UK is one of the best places in the world for innovative companies, second only to the USA for the quality of its research base.
  • High quality of living - UK residents enjoy a high standard of living, education and recreation. The South West of England is ranked as one of the best places in Europe to live and work. (Source: Financial Times).
  • Springboard to Europe - The UK is the number one gateway to Europe, giving access to the 27 member states of the EU - the world's largest single market.
  • Magnet for foreign investors - In 2006, the UK attracted and retained more US dollars of investment than anywhere else in Europe, and the second highest in the world. The South West is home to 1,500 overseas businesses.

A heritage as long as the electronics industry itself provides a world-beating cluster of semiconductor and wireless technology companies.

Leading edge chip designers are attracted to the region because of the presence of global companies such Hewlett Packard, ST Microelectronics, Motorola and Broadcom alongside a vibrant cluster of innovating new companies.


New companies include Icera which is developing the latest flexible high speed mobile data modems for mobile phones and XMOS Semiconductor which is developing low cost multi-core processors for the consumer market.

PicoChip in Bath designs the multi-core chips that sit in the latest femtocells rolling out around the world. ProVision Communications has developed technology to deliver quality high definition TV wirelessly around the home for the first time.

Phyworks, Nanotech Semiconductor and Dialog Semiconductor are all pushing back the boundaries of analogue and mixed signal design in telecommunications, each shipping millions of chips.

IPWireless is developing highly efficient mobile data and TV systems for customers around the world.

Audium Semiconductor is pushing back the boundaries of wireless audio systems

Femtocell maker Ubiquisys is leading the way in the commercialisation of an exciting global market.

MMIC Solutions is dramatically reducing the size and cost of millimetre wave security scanners now being used in airports.

Gnodal is dramatically reducing the power consumption of datacentres.

Global giants such as Nokia, Tomkins, Huawei and Dolby have all invested in the technical expertise of the region, as have UK chip makers Wolfson Microelectronics and Nujira.

Toshiba and Panasonic have both set up research centres looking at future generations of communications and consumer technologies.

The 3C Research Center, has created a unique multimillion pound research project bringing together university expertise and industrial partners such as Turner Broadcasting, HP, STMicroelectronics, QinetiQ, Granada, Matrix Data and Toshiba.

In all, over 66,000 people are part of the electronics cluster in the South West of England, with hundreds of researchers, silicon designers, hardware, software, test and verification engineers all contributing to the success of the region as the heart of silicon technology in Europe. With a tremendous quality of life, strong communications links to the rest of the UK, Europe and the US, this technology cluster continues to attract companies and spin out new companies to take on the global electronics market.

Companies in the region:

Audium Semiconductor
Developing ultra-low power amplifier chips for wireless systems

Bristol Design centre for xDSL business group, system chip micro architecture, digital and analogue blocks.

Dialog Semiconductor (UK)
Design and market ASICs and standard audio products mainly for the mobile communications industry. Specialise in mixed signal ASICs.

Eltek Semiconductors
Chip supplier and stockist of semiconductor die for hybrid industry. Component custom assembly and test facilities.

Fairchild Semiconductor
European offices of leading global supplier of high performance power products.

Developing new architectures and devices to dramatically reduce the power consumption of data centres

Supply the world’s first wireless soft modems for cellular devices.

Intel Corporation (UK)
Design, sales and product support for micro-processors and satellite TV decoders, European technical support.

Designing complete systems and chips for highly efficient mobile data and TV

Micro Circuit Engineering
Integrated circuit design and manufacture. Specialise in digital and mixed ASICs and multi-chip module technology.

MMIC Solutions
Compact, cost effective millimetre wave technology for security and telecoms applications

National Semiconductor
High performance analogue devices and subsystems.

Oxford Plasma Technology
Ion beam and plasma processing equipment, primarily for semiconductor R&D.

Designs and sells high-performance analogue and digital integrated circuits (ICs) for optical networking.

Provides solutions for femtocells and all global standards of UMTS 3G base stations, including RF and baseband processing.

ProVision Communications
Commercialising leading video compression and wireless transmission algorithms developed at the University of Bristol for HDTV

Developing a high definition TV media centre for the consumer market

The firm's largest digital VLSI design centre, specialise in high performance graphic and video accelerators.

Westcode Semiconductors
R&D and manufacture of silicon power products.

Xfab U
Site of X-FAB; 150mm and 200mm CMOS advanced mixed-signal custom wafer foundry.

XMOS Semiconductor
Designing multicore processors for the consumer market that are highly configurable in software

The South West offers:

• Networking facilities to bring together industry and academia
• Easy access to all key UK and European business centers
• Strategic partnering with the region’s key technology companies
• Grants and other financial assistance including access to venture capital
• Support for marketing and export initiatives
• Skilled help on issues such as Intellectual Property
• Quality property options on flexible terms
• A superb quality of life - acting as a magnet for skilled people
• Established clusters in key industry sectors
• Access to a population of 26 million within 2 hours drive of the region
• A skilled, flexible, motivated and loyal labor pool
• Access to the UK’s leading research universities
• One of the fastest growing regions in the UK