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Smart and sustainable aviation in South West England

Smart and sustainable aviation will revolutionise travel and innovative companies in the South West of England are leading the way.

The South West is a global leader in new aviation technologies that will transform the way people and goods move in the 21st century.

This is a unique opportunity to design, develop and manufacture the next generation of urban, sub-regional and regional air mobility platforms. These will use the sustainable aviation fuels and propulsion technologies of the future.

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South West England

Investment type:

Foreign direct investment


Jet zero and green ships, Aerospace and jet zero

Rohini Kumar

Rohini Kumar

Investment Propositions Adviser

Contact the opportunity lead

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Sector and market opportunity

This is an exceptional opportunity for an investor to plug into a smart and sustainable aviation ecosystem.

It’s a chance to play an instrumental role in the development, demonstration and adoption of emerging aviation and advanced air mobility markets. These will take full advantage of electrification, hydrogen, autonomy and disruptive technologies.

Growth prospects

By 2030, the emergence of entirely new aviation markets in the sub-regional and urban environments is expected.

Urban Air Mobility has the potential to bring about a mass-market solution to urban mobility, using electric aircraft, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), and eVTOL capability.

The decarbonisation of the sector will give companies exciting opportunities to test and validate new methods of propulsion in the aerospace sector.


South West England has a well-established aerospace and aviation industry with a large concentration of primes, projects, start-ups and technology companies.


Bristol and Exeter Airports are both in South West England and offer fantastic international connectivity.

The area also has excellent road and rail links to London and the rest of the UK. London’s Heathrow Airport is 1 hour and 40 mins by car. You can reach London by train in 75 minutes and Birmingham in 90 minutes.

Local talent and skills

The South West of England’s talent pool includes:

  • 5 world-class universities with skilled and gifted graduates
  • 5 elite research organisations devoted to smart and sustainable air mobility solutions
  • 59,000 engineers in aerospace, aviation and related activities

Research and expertise

The region is a world-class research and innovation cluster with facilities including:

  • The National Composites Centre
  • Bristol Robotics Laboratory
  • The Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems
  • The Centre for Future Clean Mobility and the Centre for Modelling and Simulation

The Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation Programme is a research, innovation and skills initiative expected to deliver £62 million of added R&D value. Under the programme, the National Composites Centres and leading South West companies are working to develop and accelerate digital engineering.

Region Spotlight
South of England


The region is home to 21 million people. It offers opportunities across a wide range of sectors from nuclear and aerospace, to life science and new technologies. There are vibrant clusters of expertise spanning 5G, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

View all investment opportunities in South of England

Enabling clean growth

Demand for smart and sustainable aviation is being driven by the UK’s clean growth strategy.

The Jet Zero Council is a partnership between the industry and the government with the aim of delivering zero-emission transatlantic flights within a generation.

There’s also Fly Zero - a Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) project to detail how the UK might best contribute to zero-emission aircraft.

This programme will pull together expertise from several universities and across the UK supply chain in an initial 12-month programme to look at the design challenges and market opportunity of potential zero-emission aircraft concepts.

Local and national government support

The UK government has provided strong support for the Aerospace industry.

In 2020, the government signed off on £200 million in grants to support projects, including the development of high-performance engines, new wing designs for aircraft and ultra-lightweight materials to reduce fuel consumption.

Success story

Vertical Aerospace

Founded in 2016 by Greentech entrepreneur Stephen Fitzpatrick, Vertical Aerospace is a global aerospace manufacturer based in Bristol, England. It designs and builds zero carbon, vertical take-off and landing electrically powered aircraft.

With access to the best talent from the aerospace sector in Bristol and Formula 1 in Oxfordshire, the team now has 200 world-class engineers and experts, recruited from the likes of Airbus, Boeing and Leonardo.

Vertical disrupts the way aircraft are developed, combining aerospace rigour and discipline with Formula 1’s pace and agility of to develop cutting-edge aircraft.

It is a global pioneer in sustainable aviation technologies, one of a handful of companies worldwide to fly two full-scale all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) prototypes, with UK Civil Aviation Authority approval.   

Vertical recently unveiled VA-X4, the eVTOL aircraft it will take through certification. Capable of carrying four passengers and one pilot, VA-1X is set to be one of the world’s first certified winged eVTOL with commercial operations expected to start in 2025. Powered by Lithium-ion batteries VA-X4 will fly completely emission-free.

Vertical has also committed to building a truly sustainable supply chain.

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The government is identifying new projects across the whole of the UK. Investors who are interested in our projects can find out more by contacting us.

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