Home » News » Global opportunity, local benefit

Global opportunity, local benefit

Research and Development: Global opportunity, local benefit in North Devon and Torridge

By Chris Fuller, Economic Development Officer at Torridge District Council

At times, walking along the sandy beaches or Tarka Trail, you can be forgiven for forgetting that nestled amidst the landscapes of North Devon and Torridge lies a small but hidden powerhouse of innovative companies, developing new products and driving progress through research and development (or R&D). These businesses, a multinational in Barnstaple, or in a warehouse in Ilfracombe, on an industrial estate in Winkleigh or in a backstreet of Bideford are all part of an economic revolution.

Growing the number of R&D intensive companies will be at the heart of a new transformative economic phase for North Devon and Torridge in the coming years. Whether it’s  in expanding our pharmaceutical industry, high-quality manufacturing sector, in agritech or the emerging clean maritime field,  attracting businesses investing in high levels of R&D, will have a significant positive impact on ambition and aspiration whilst stimulating the region’s economic vibrancy and prosperity.

Ultimately, R&D needs talented people, and these businesses act as a magnet to attract the brightest and best. Many businesses also grow their own talent, providing training and exciting career opportunities for people living locally, working with schools and colleges to enthuse, inspire and upskill.

On the horizon sits a game-changer for us in North Devon and Torridge. The Appledore Clean Maritime Innovation Centre is poised to bring a number of dynamic businesses together, making it a very visible catalyst to everyone across our community. The Torridge District Council project, which secured £15.6m funding from the Levelling Up Fund in January is expected to open in early 2026, providing waterfront offices and workshops for vital R&D.

The Centre will provide a space for collaboration, where industry can come together with globally leading researchers from the Centre for Future Clean Mobility (University of Exeter) and the University of Plymouth, with input as well from the University Centre at Petroc.  The co-location of researchers alongside industry experts will be a powerful mix. Being neighbours is an important part of the innovation process and in Appledore, the Centre will be located adjacent to the Harland & Wolff shipyard, which has recently seen a resurgence in both activity and strategic importance.

Appledore Clean Maritime Innovation Centre will sit on the coastline of North Devon and Torridge, clearly at the heart of an emerging and global maritime blue economy. Adjacent to the establishment of Floating Offshore Wind (FLOW) in the Celtic Sea, alongside the developments in clean green hydrogen propulsion systems, and even the largest approved seaweed farm in the UK.

The Innovation Centre and R&D is set to change the way North Devon and Torridge is viewed and perceived and will offer growing opportunities for local families and communities to prosper. The innovative companies and highly skilled and better rewarded job opportunities they bring will enable people who work hard to get the right opportunities and be able to walk through doors that they might not have previously imagined possible, to stimulate higher-paid employment opportunities for all, not just the few, and to inspire our next generation. A green tech revolution at the heart of our community.


07 July 2023


Sustainability, Business, College news