Hertfordshire and Essex: centres for investment and innovation

On behalf of Attwaters Jameson Hill posted in Private Wealth on Thursday, November 18th, 2021

In our Private Wealth Guide for 2021/22, we featured some of Hertfordshire and Essex’s best and brightest businesses – those that were bucking the downward economic trend and achieving impressive things despite the odds. 

In recent years, both counties have attracted significant regional and national investment, boosting their economies and rendering them attractive destinations for budding entrepreneurs and those seeking to generate and grow their wealth both now and in the future. 2021 has been no different.

Herts champions life sciences

In past years, Hertfordshire has championed scientific research and development and has been an essential hub for the life sciences sector. In 2019, the then Business and Industry Minister, Nadhim Zahamwi, announced Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst as one of six new Life Sciences Opportunity Zones in the UK. Home to global heavyweights such as GSK and Cytiva, Stevenage Biosciences Catalyst has helped put the town – and Hertfordshire – on the map. What’s more, in October 2020, Stevenage was named a High Potential Opportunity (HPO) zone for cell and gene therapy.

The ‘new Hollywood’?

This year, however, Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)’s Annual Report highlights a very different growth sector with the potential to see Hertfordshire become a star. Hollywood’s Sunset Studios is set to open a £700m film and TV studios in Broxbourne, which is expected to be the largest campus of its type in the UK and to contribute £300m per year to the local economy. Together with Warner Bros Studio in Leavesden and nearby Elstree Studios, Hertfordshire “is fast becoming the new Hollywood”.

Essex goes global…

Meanwhile, much-needed work to strengthen the UK’s supply chain is going ahead right here in Essex, with smart logistics company DP World investing £300m in a fourth berth at its London Gateway in Thurrock – on top of the £2bn already invested by the Dubai-based firm. Together with Ford’s Dagenham engine plant and the port at Tilbury (also in Essex), the London Gateway forms part of the Thames Freeport, announced in the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget address in March 2021. Freeport status means that businesses located within this zone will be subject to preferential tax and customs rules – and they are queuing up to join in.

The Freeport is expected to generate 21,000 jobs in Thurrock and the surrounding areas, generate huge levels of investment and support the promotion of net zero technologies and clean energy generation.

…while staying true to its local roots

As money continues to pour into Hertfordshire, Essex appears determined not to be outshone, with its own range of initiatives to support business innovation. Small businesses have been supported to meet growing customer demand for online purchase and delivery services through the new Click It Local platform, an innovative virtual high street service which now has over 200 Essex stores signed up. The platform enables local retailers to extend their digital reach and compete with larger online retailers, and even offers customers same-day delivery.  

On a larger scale, the Angels@Essex investment platform, which launched mid-lockdown and connects investors with innovative businesses requiring funding to grow, has so far pledged nearly £8m for 11 businesses. £1.5m of this went to Conigital, an Essex company seeking to create cleaner, greener and safer public transport through the development of driverless vehicles.

Exciting times for the South East

As both counties continue to attract both national and global interest and investment, there are hugely exciting times ahead. While Hertfordshire looks set to lead the way in the UK’s booming film and television sector, Essex is primed to be at the forefront of Britain’s smart logistics and clean tech revolution. Whether you’re seeking employment in these fast-growing areas or looking for investment opportunities, you’ll likely be spoilt for choice for a long time to come. Of all the places to be, it’s good to do business in Hertfordshire and Essex.

Take a look at our 2021-22 guides to Hertfordshire and Essex.  

And don’t forget to follow us on social media using the hashtag #PrivateWealthGuide for more news, blogs and facts.

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