23rd February 2017

The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP) has announced that South Devon College will receive funding from the third round of the Growth Deal allocation towards the new Hi-Tech and Digital Centre development. Based at the Vantage Point campus in Paignton, the new purpose-built facility will be both innovative in its design and use as well as nationally significant and is planned to open to students in September 2019.

The funding highlights the importance of investing in the future of hi-tech teaching and learning locally, linking to the Torbay electronics/photonics cluster.


Elected Mayor of Torbay, Gordon Oliver said, “The announcement of this funding is great news and means Torbay can take another step towards supporting the growth of our local hi-tech cluster. This also means our young people will now have the opportunity to receive a high level of technical skills and qualifications without having to move away from the Bay to study.”

The development will kick start the first phase of the College’s ambition to expand and enhance its buildings and facilities over the next 10 to 15 years to become a world-class campus, with plans to develop student residential accommodation and innovative additional classroom and specialist teaching spaces as well as new sports facilities.

The Growth Deal fund aims to boost the local economy and act as a catalyst for growth and job creation. As the third largest employer in Torbay, the College is committed to ensuring it provides the highest quality of teaching and learning for the community to prepare individuals for employment. The project has been developed in consultation with over 40 local businesses of all sizes, building on South Devon College’s detailed understanding of the local labour markets. The Centre will provide individuals with the skills that employers need to support their growth in a range of important local Hi-Tech businesses such as; electronics, lasers, fibre, satellite and communications, aerospace, marine, medical and data analysis ‘Big Data’. The offer will also extend to creative industries including gaming, app design, digital design, film and digital media, smart clothing and textiles and many others.

Stephen Marks, Manager for Corporate Social Responsibility at Oclaro, Inc, said, “The Hi-tech and Digital Centre development will underpin the link between education and the Hi-tech industry in Torbay and the wider community. Preparing students from STEM backgrounds for the workplace will narrow the skills gap and meet the demand for highly trained, industry-ready professionals in this dynamic field.”


The Hi-Tech and Digital Centre aims to inspire the local community by showcasing the latest in world class technology and equipment. The interior layout is currently being developed and will follow cutting edge principles in future proofing an outstanding teaching and learning environment. Great emphasis is being placed on flexibility of space, the importance and need for social and collaborative study areas and layouts of rooms which will mirror workplace processes and practice.

During their second year of study at South Devon College University Centre, Former Creative Digital Media Foundation Degree students Jon Palfrey and Daniel Butler set up their own media production company, MGV Productions. Since graduating, the team have successfully built up years of experience in commercial, corporate, outside broadcast and film productions working with clients of all sizes and from all sectors. Jon said, “South Devon College provided me with the skills and confidence I needed to pursue my career. The teaching staff were second-to-none and helped me to start my own business. Having access to the latest hi-tech equipment was indispensable, it helped to foster my technical and creative skills and made the projection in to industry less daunting.”

The overall building layout will effectively follow the concept, design and development stages of manufacturing processes and will be laid out in such a way that it will mirror a real business environment, with zones for manufacturing and production. Individuals will have access to workshops and studios to practice 3D printing, develop Augmented and Virtual Reality environments and explore techniques for rapid prototyping of new products. There will be zones for creative and  & technical design including Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) facilities; alongside design suites and zones for more traditional activities such as classrooms and lecture theatres.

Laurence Frewin, Vice Principal and Deputy Chief Executive at the College said, “This exciting £17million project will allow the College to develop a new and flexible educational offer that is both distinctive and appealing to a wider range of both technically and creatively orientated young people. In turn, this will help to fill the skills gap of local employers, including in the Digital and Hi-Tech sectors, who provide sustainable jobs for local students. Our students will have even more opportunities than ever.”

Kevin Foster MP said, “This project is not just about building a research and training centre, but sending out a clear message that our bay is looking to be a Silicon Bay where high tech industries can thrive and create real opportunities for local people. This funding is a vote of confidence not just in the team at South Devon College who will deliver it, but in the bay’s economic future as a whole. I look forward to seeing the first students benefitting from a chance to learn locally the skills they need for their future careers.”

Steve Hindley, Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership Chair said, “We can and will deliver transformational growth in Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay – with the right level of backing from government to create the right conditions and remove the barriers to poor productivity, including improved connectivity and investment in skills.

“This latest round of Growth Deal funding helps us to achieve the step change that we aspire to, and we look forward to putting these ten new schemes into place that will help us raise productivity for the area and generate rewarding careers for the people of the Heart of the South West.”

For more information on the Hi-Tech and Digital Centre please visit our website www.southdevon.ac.uk or email enquiries@southdevon.ac.uk Alternatively, come along to our next Open Evening on the 15th March 2017, 5pm-8pm at our Vantage Point Campus, Long Road, Paignton, TQ4 7EJ.


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