Agenda item

Provisional Allocation of £5.3m Swansea Bay City Deal Funds and Swansea Bay City Deal Supporting Innovation & Low Carbon Growth (SILCG) - Advanced Manufacturing Production Facility (AMPF) Project Amendment Summary.


The report was noted.


Officers provided an overview of the report as circulated, they explained that Neath Port Talbot were leading the proposal of the provisional allocation of £5,300,000 City deal funds and it is intended to go into supporting innovation and low carbon growth program to bolster and enhance the advanced manufacture production facility as part of it.


Members were advised that program board had endorsed this on the 18th of April 2023 and Joint Committee approved it on the 11th of May. Members were advised that the approval means that Neath Port Talbot can now update their business case to support innovation & low carbon growth to enhance the advanced production facility with the inclusion of a national NetZero Skills Centre of Excellence.


The national NetZero Skills Centre of Excellence is a physical build, housing a Centre for Excellence for Skills. Officers explained that this is a consequence of the removal of the Centre of Excellence and Next Generation Services, The Factories of the Future and Steel Science. All of which lead by NPT in 2019.


Officers explained that what came as a consequence of that, was the support and innovation low carbon growth program which was incorporated into the programme and approved by the Governments in March 2021.


Members were advised that this meant that the £5,300,000 of the City Deal funds remained unallocated to any project or programme and Neath Port Talbot requested to amend the low carbon business case with a PMO. Officers requested to Joint committee that they approve these unallocated funds go to Neath Port Talbot in principle, for the purposes outlined in the report.


Officers requested that Neath Port Talbot can formally proceed with the development of a business case to include the advanced manufacturing production facility project and go through a process which is included in appendix b. around the business case approval change process associated with that. The development of the business case is currently being processed.


Officers explained thar in relation to target dates, there has been a lot of engagement with further and higher education, Industry Wales, NetZero Industry Wales and local industry through the Economic Development team. Officers are basing this on need and demand from the industry and as such, this is an industry lead facility and industry lead skills; Welsh Government are also very interested in it.


Officers advised that in relation to timeline that they are working through the economic and business cases at the moment and are hoping to have the first draft of the economic case by this week. They will then review the document with Jonathan Burns’ team and other parties they have been engaging with.


Officers are going to the Low Carbon Growth Program Board of Governors on the 14th of September 2023 and then the City Deal program board on the 31st of October 2023 and then for decision at City Deal Joint Committee on the 16th of November 2023.


Officers advised that because this is a significant change, it will likely need to be approved by Government but officers are already in dialogue with Welsh Government in regards to this.


Members were happy to receive the timeline and welcomed the funding, they asked to clarify where the Port Talbot Waterfront Enterprise Zone falls.


Officers advised that it Covers harbourside, Baglan energy park and Baglan industrial estate.


Members welcomed the numbers of jobs created in relation to this project and asked whether they were long term jobs.


Officers confirmed that they are long term jobs, some linked to construction but most from successful spin out companies and spin out from Swansea University and Trinity Saint David. Both are looking for premises for startup and this facility will provide shared equipment and industry led skills such as looking at future skills of flow, freeport, Global Centre of Rail Excellence. The goal is to ensure that the communities of Swansea Bay City Region have the appropriate skills to access long term jobs for future generations.

Officers advised that this bridges the gap between industry and academia and helps significantly in helping companies developing their products. There has been work done on this in the last 12 months. Members were advised that there are 6 or 7 catapults in England, 2 in Scotland and none in Wales. Officers are talking to Welsh Government about having a catapult in Wales and how officers can use some of their systems to then link up and be a bit more ambitious. Officers advised that they see this as a fundamental project going forward not just in Neath Port Talbot but across the region and South Wales as a whole. Officers said this is slightly more ambitious that initially thought.


Members wanted to understand more about the breakdown of the demographic of the people these jobs would go to and who would benefit from the training.


Officers explained that it would be across the board, people already in employment, school leavers, young people, all the way through to upskilling existing members of the workforce. This also allows companies to develop products in the advanced manufacturing centre. Officers also highlighted then the skills element on the side. They believe this compliments perfectly.


Officers used the example of Coventry in the MTC (Manufacturing Technology Centre) where they were producing 200 - 300 high quality apprentices every year and that helps the local industries there develop. Officers said that that is an area that is critically short on skills development.


Members highlighted that due to the economy this is a period of transition with people moving into new areas of employment and asked whether this is an opportunity for people via Welsh Government training schemes, to re-skill and move into a different sector should they wish. Members asked officers if they people could do so. Officers said that is the case.


Members also highlighted the potential to retain high quality jobs in Port Talbot from the decarbonisation of the Steel Works, as people will be looking for re-deployment from the heavy side of the industry to renewable energy.


Members asked about the £5,300,000 allocation as stated in the report and asked Chris Moore to confirm that no money has been released as part of this yet.


Chris Moore advised that when City Deal was structured originally, the funding was allocated to NPT. Because NPT has realigned some of its schemes and had taken slightly different projects, that released this amount. It was felt, as per the joint agreement, that it was sensible and appropriate to allow NPT to come forward with an amended scheme first. Officers advised that they wouldn’t release any of the funding until they had a substantive project in place and this is part of the £240,000,000 that was originally allocated and its gone back to NPT for first opportunity at using the funds.


The report was noted.

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