The Greater Thames Valley region is the UK’s most productive region outside London, dwarfing the powerhouses of Greater Manchester and Greater Birmingham combined, according to new research.
The figures revealing the scale of the region’s contribution are revealed in a Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) report into Gross Value Added (GVA), a measure of an area's contribution to the economy based on the value of the goods and services it produces each year.
The report showed that the Greater Thames Valley delivered almost £145bn GVA in 2015/2016, compared to the combined GVA figure for Greater Birmingham and Solihull and Greater Manchester of just over £99bn.
Tim Smith MBE, chief executive of the Berkshire Thames Valley LEP, which sits at the core of the Greater Thames Valley, said: "These results emphasise the importance of the Greater Thames Valley as an economic powerhouse, which has a significant impact on the health of the UK economy and punches above its weight when it comes to productivity.
"Berkshire, at the heart of the Greater Thames Valley, is enjoying a step change in the growth and appeal of its dynamic property market. Several landmark town centre regeneration schemes are now coming to fruition in Reading, Bracknell, Slough, Wokingham and Maidenhead, while at the same time, the University of Reading has begun the construction of its new (Thames Valley) Science Park adjacent to Junction 11 of the M4. Together, these developments continue to support a vibrant economy that does much to generate economic growth, nationally."
Productivity drivers that mark the wider region out as an economic growth hub include a highly-skilled, educated workforce (some 1.3 million people in the Greater Thames Valley are qualified to Level 4 or above, compared to 990,000 in Greater Manchester and Greater Birmingham combined).
Businesses based there also benefit from international and local connectivity, outstanding education and research assets, quality housing stock, and high-growth economic hubs. Key developments across the region include investment in new specialist office, laboratory and technical space, at locations like the Thames Valley Science Park and Harwell Science Park.
The growth of world-leading areas of specialism such as Solent’s UK Marine and Maritime sector are also helping to boost the wider region. The creation of Enterprise Zone sites at Solent, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and Enterprise M3 are also attracting innovative, world-leading companies in areas including digital media, 5G and cyber security.
Richard Harrington, CEO of the Buckinghamshire Thames Valley LEP, added: "The investment opportunity for Buckinghamshire has been transformed in the past 12 months. Our three new Enterprise Zone sites all offer development opportunities not seen in this part of the region for a generation.
"As well as the business rate, planning and development advantages that Enterprise Zone status offers, all three are set to benefit from the increased regional infrastructure investment being driven by the National Infrastructure Commission including East West Rail and the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway improving connectivity to London, across the Thames Valley and to the world-leading Universities and research hubs."