In Profile: Barry Dennington Chairman of SWLEP

By Anita Jaynes on 6 July, 2014

Barry Dennington is the newly appointed chairman of the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

Barry began his career as an apprentice at Philips Electronics company in London and advanced his career with roles in Business Management at AMI Inc in California, ST Micro and Mitel in Europe until he returned to Philips and California in 2000 as Vice President leading a $450m Computing Business serving customers such as Apple, Cisco and HP.

Four years later he transferred to Philips HQ in Eindhoven as Senior Vice President leading global Product Businesses and Services Groups.

Barry went on to become Managing Director NXP UK Ltd and participated in a number of industry Boards. Most recently he was Chief Operating Officer at Plessey.

This month TBE interviewed Barry to find out more about his new role and how it will support the local business community.

How does your role help businesses in Wiltshire?

The SWLEP’s target is to secure wealth, jobs and new business creation by focusing on our four priorities:

  • Inward investment;
  • Supporting and stimulating existing business growth and facilitating new business set up;
  • Job creation, education and skills;
  • Economic infrastructure.

In order to achieve this I’m going to make use of my network of contacts and use my leadership skills to drive economic growth in Swindon and Wiltshire.

What steps are being made to drive inward investment in the County?

The LEP has strong partnership arrangements in place with UKTI both locally, nationally and internationally and have hosted a number of show case events to highlight the fantastic companies in Swindon and Wiltshire. For example, we hosted UKTI Managers at a workshop in Dyson premises where other local high value manufacturing organisations presented.  Similar events have showcased our links to the automotive sector via Honda, BMW and respective supply chains and also with the Food and Drink sector.  Our partners, Forward Swindon recently held a conference sponsored by West of England Academic Health Science Network where over 100 people attended seeking to develop links in the Healthcare and Telecomms sectors.

How is the SWLEP working towards stimulating growth in the region?

SWLEP has submitted an ambitious bid to Government as part of securing Local Growth Funds.  We will know the outcome of this mid to end July 2014 but this potential investment in 2015/16 means for every £1 LGF we will leverage over £5.65 of private and Local Government contributions that will potentially deliver 19,740 jobs, 15,659 homes and 144 hectares of employment land.

How is the SWLEP supporting individual businesses grow? 

SWLEP works in tandem with our key partners – Swindon Borough Council and Wiltshire Council and through their support networks, we deliver business support to SMEs and large corporate in the LEP area.   Wessex Association of Chambers of Commerce, Swindon Chamber of Commerce and Business West are key partners in our Wiltshire Business Hub with direct services delivered by many other supporting organisations; such as Outset Swindon, TEN, Forward Swindon and Wiltshire 100.  The creation of the Wiltshire Business Hub was the result of a successful bid the LEP made to Government and is part of a £3m package of support.

An encouraging report released at the end of June confirmed that SMEs in Swindon are amongst the most successful in the country at driving economic recovery. The Centre for Cities annual Small Business Outlook shows how small businesses are performing in cities across the country. This report shows that in Swindon small businesses are doing extremely well and were listed 4th in the UK in the overall rankings.

We are delighted that Swindon has ranked so highly in the Small Business Outlook. Small and medium businesses make a massive contribution to the local economy, and it is fantastic to see this recognised at a national level. The LEP will continue to work with SMEs to support and develop them in the future.

How is the SWLEP connecting local businesses ?

SWLEP has sponsored a range of research which has brought like minded companies together and resulted in a range of networks. A good example of this is the Manufacturing Network.

The research involved thirty-five local companies and organisations in workshops, questionnaires and interviews to develop themes and priorities for High Value Manufacturing in the area.

The result is a ‘2026’ vision for a thriving Swindon and Wiltshire, which emphasises the unique attributes manufacturing brings to the area. This includes exploiting the area’s strong military presence and developing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) so they can respond quickly to developing opportunities. The report also suggests that High Value Manufacturing will be supported by Innovation and Technology Centres that build connectivity and local strengths.

The Manufacturing Network is now working on an Implementation Plan, which, led by the LEP, involves representatives from the Manufacturing Advisory Service, key business figures and other supporting organisations. The Network will also work with LEPs from other parts of the country to collaborate with joint development opportunities.

Due to its current contribution to the local economy and potential for growth, High Value Manufacturing is high on the LEP’s agenda, with local businesses such as Apetito, Herman Miller, Intel, Cooper Tires and Dyson leading the way.

The LEP also recently sponsored Wiltshire Council’s Expo event where over 100 local business exhibited their company products and services in a business to business event held in Chippenham.

What motivates you?

Working with people and teams on challenging objectives, driving positive change and improvement while achieving outstanding results.

If there was one character in history you would like to meet, who would it be and why?

Isambard  Kingdom Brunel:  For his vision, invention, determination and delivery where he built outstanding structures in cities and the realisation of connecting  people and business from London through the West of England and onto New York. He already held and delivered the principles of the LEP in his head and we continue to build on his inventions to develop the region today.