SWINDON and Wiltshire have received hundreds of millions of pounds from overseas in the last year while other areas have seen far less foreign investment.

Despite a worldwide downturn in the amount of foreign direct investment. the number of new internationally-funded projects around the county has risen by 87 per cent to a total sum of £347m.

This included a sevenfold increase in new jobs - from 48 in 2019/20 to 331 in 2020/21 - which is in stark contrast to the global drop during the pandemic which saw a 30 per cent fall in FDI projects and a 40 per cent downturn in new jobs overall.

Europe saw a 30 per cent drop in projects and the UK itself a 35 per cent drop overall.

The Inward Investment teams at Swindon Borough Council, Wiltshire Council and the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership are working together under the Invest in Swindon and Wiltshire brand.

They have seen investment from companies like Photonica, Thermo Fisher and Becton Dickinson.

Many of the successes have been from expansions of Swindon’s existing large life sciences companies such as Catalent, Thermo Fisher and BD.

Other notable projects have been Shenzhen VOD Visual Technology moving to set up an assembly plant in Swindon and Photonica relocating their Global HQ to Chippenham. Both those new sites accounted for 130 of the jobs created.

Eight investment projects came from the USA while Germany, Taiwan, Italy, Sweden, India, China and the Netherlands each invested in one project.

Six projects involved manufacturing and assembly, three focused on the services industry, two were retail-related, two others highlighted research and development efforts, one was solely about sales, and one involved a global headquarters.

The Invest in Swindon and Wiltshire Team is optimistic about the coming year with 23 projects in the pipeline, plus Amazon’s new £400m Symmetry Park warehouse creating 1,500 jobs, and Zurich completing its new town centre HQ.

Interest in 5G and telecommunications has attracted a lot of interest, with Inno Istrument and Mavenir moving to Swindon from South Korea and the US respectively to work with City Fibre and Vodafone.

The Science Museum’s National Collections Centre in Wroughton and the Porton Down Science Park are both attracting global interest and the team hopes to promote these sites in order to attract more investment to the area.

Swindon Borough Council leader Coun David Renard said: “Investors continue to see Swindon as an economic powerhouse and a great place to do business.

“We continue to provide the environment, opportunities, skilled workforce and great lifestyle which enables businesses and their workforce to thrive.

“Even through the pandemic, investment by national and international companies demonstrates that Swindon is a player on the global stage.”

Wiltshire Council leader Coun Richard Clewer said: “We know Wiltshire is a great place to live and carry out business and this latest announcement shows just how attractive the area is to foreign companies.

“The importance of foreign direct investment cannot be underestimated as it creates new jobs and more opportunities for growth as foreign companies transfer funding, knowledge, skills and technology to the county, providing a vital boost to the local economy.

“We welcome discussions with any foreign as well as domestic companies looking to invest in the county.”

following the ongoing construction of Zurich’s headquarters and plans for Amazon’s major new warehouse in Symmetry Park.