AT this time of year, as the clocks go back and the nights draw in, it is all too easy to retreat into hibernation mode. No such thinking from the Switch on to Swindon (SOTS) team – in fact, we’ve never been busier getting out there promoting Swindon.

I spoke briefly about the delegation from the China EV100 forum that visited us recently. They were shown that Swindon has one of the most impressive and diverse business networks in the UK. In fact the perfect place to create links for trade, investment, research and innovation.

The 23 members of the delegation included Mr Liu Xiao Shi, Deputy Secretary General of China EV100, a forum aimed at boosting the development of the New Energy Vehicle industry. Other delegates came as representatives of significantly large companies such as Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., Ltd, Zhejiang Wanma and Eakay Hi-Tech and Software Technology.

China EV100 is a forum aimed at boosting the development of the Electric Vehicle industry. It promotes multi-field fusion and collaborative innovation through research and exchanges, which break the limitations of departments, disciplines, ownership and the sector.

Swindon and Wiltshire is well placed to respond to this opportunity, with its strong industrial heritage, automotive capability and innovative industry leaders. The trip to the UK was arranged by the Department for International Trade and is seen as the first step in a programme to build strong trade and investment links with China EV100.

During the visit we were consistently able to demonstrate why Swindon is recognised as the UK’s 7th most investable town/city and ranked 5th in the 2017 UK Cities and Financial Powerhouse league table.

At the our most recent Place Board discussion we reviewed the visit and talked about how best to focus our ongoing activity on key sectors and markets that would best enable Swindon’s economy to grow.

One sector in particular that is performing well and has potential for even more growth is technology. Last week Irwin Mitchell published a report looking at the UK’s technology sector and Swindon is up in lights. Swindon is mentioned as having 3,900 more employees working in this sector in 2016 than 2013. This is the 9th biggest increase across the 42 cities, despite us being one of the smallest “cities” in terms of population.

The gross value added of this sector has increased by 30% over the same period, putting us in 7th place. This sector now adds £92.3m to the local economy. For full details of the report go here

Yet more evidence of our economic potential, and a lot of that growth has come from our small to medium size business sector. So it was a real pleasure to attend the Scale up to Swindon launch event. An Inspire by Wessex Chambers organised event, it invited Swindon’s most successful growing businesses to apply for a unique programme of support in partnership with Goldman Sachs.

Inspire are supporting high growth businesses to become even more successful. The logic is that these growing businesses will have the highest impact on the economy of Swindon and Wiltshire. It is well worth visiting to find out more.