THE newly appointed Minister of State for Universities and Science has signed the first Local Growth Deal at Farnborough International Airshow.

Greg Clark MP signed the £118 million deal, the first to be signed off in the UK, following announcements last week on Local Growth Funding to be awarded to the 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships.

Mr Clark signed the deal with the chairman of Enterprise M3 Geoff French, in front of Enterprise M3 board members, strategic partners and key businesses in the area, including BP, IBM, Telefonica and Fujitsu.

The Enterprise M3 Growth Deal will see significant investment in skills and technology centres, improvements to roads, sustainable transport measures and unlocking of housing developments to ensure the LEP area that stretches from the New Forest to Woking and Guildford remains at the forefront of technological development and innovation. The 21 projects that form the Growth Deal will help the area to retain its position as an economic powerhouse both nationally and internationally. Mr Clark said: “This deal marks the beginning of a new era of economic freedom and prosperity for Hampshire and Surrey.

“An era in which spending decisions are taken out of the hands of Westminster and Whitehall and placed directly in the hands of the councils and businesses who know the area best.

“Enterprise M3 have said they will use these new powers to put Hampshire and Surrey at the cutting edge of innovation and training, as well as providing essential housing and support for small businesses.

“I very much welcome the Growth Deal, and I look forward to coming back to the region soon to see what progress is being made, and to talk to the LEP about what more we might be able to do together in future years.”

The deal includes £35m of investment in 2015/16 that will support economic growth in the Enterprise M3 area, and see investment in key infrastructure projects, such as £5m to support the world – leading 5G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey with additional activity to support local businesses take advantage of these new technologies.

The 21 projects that form the Growth Deal will help the M3 region retain its position as an economic powerhouse both nationally and internationally. Additionally an investment of £13m on four skills centres in Andover, Brockenhurst, Brooklands, Ashford and Whitehill and Bordon majoring on STEM skills and construction will ensure the region further capitalises on the skills and innovation in the Sci:Tech corridor.

Major road schemes to alleviate congestion and improve access in Basingstoke, Guildford, Woking and Camberley, Whitehill and Bordon are also part of the package plus a series of sustainable transport measures that will support public transport links by rail, bus and bicycle. Mr French said: “We are delighted that the minister joined us at Farnborough International Airshow and that he chose our Growth Deal to be the first one in the country to be signed. “The Growth Deal will not only build on Enterprise M3’s strengths in aerospace and defence but also support a new generation of UK technologies notably £5 million of Growth Deal investment in 5G technologies. “This investment will, we hope, cement Britain’s leadership in mobile technologies and put the UK on the map as the place to invest in mobile technology R&D. “This 5G leadership role is of significance to all parts of the UK and will provide new business opportunities for a diverse range of UK sectors, including aerospace and defence.

“We have already invested £2.5million of our Growing Enterprise Fund money in the new infrastructure developments that can be seen at this year’s Farnborough airshow site. The 41 new permanent chalet structures form a key part of Farnborough International Ltd’s ongoing development plans for the airshow site and have already gone a long way in helping to safeguard the future of the Farnborough International Airshow which is estimated to have an economic impact of £30m per show and of which more than half of this impacts within a 25 mile radius.”