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EY’s UK Attractiveness Survey and COVID-19 Impact Report show strength of Thames Valley sectors for future investment and recovery

15:28 27 November in Advanced Engineering & Manufacturing, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Digital Technology, Europe, Life Sciences & Healthcare, News, Oxfordshire, Talent and Innovation

The importance of digital technology, health and wellbeing investment has grown amid the pandemic, providing a boost in attractiveness for the South East as a destination for foreign direct investors, according to the recently published EY UK Attractiveness Survey report. The report found that these sectors are set to lead the way as a driver for growth in the region over the next 12 months, with digital investment due to have a significant impact on future operations, and the quality of the health system forecast to be a crucial factor in future investment strategies in the health and wellbeing sector.

The report concludes that, despite the pandemic, the UK remains an attractive location for inward investors, and that it ranks as the second most attractive European destination for foreign investment in 2021.

Given the Thames Valley’s recognised strength as a hub for digital technology and life sciences and its proven attractiveness to foreign owned companies starting up and expanding in the UK, the report’s findings are good news for future investment growth in the Thames Valley.

Access the full report HERE.

“The South East is well-served by its digital infrastructure, particularly with hubs in places like Reading. Digital transformation will be vital in ensuring South East businesses remain competitive and connected, particularly in a post-pandemic environment where remote working and collaboration are more important.”

“The pandemic has reinforced the importance of health and wellbeing opportunities for investors. The UK has a strong track record in this area and places like the South East and in particular the Thames Valley has mature life science hubs around Oxford and Slough, which form a key part of that. The region is home to several major global pharmaceutical companies. There is clear appetite for further investment in the health and wellbeing sector and the South East is well-placed to meet this demand.”

Richard Baker, Managing Partner at EY in the South East


A second report, also published by EY, supports the findings of the above report, highlighting the fact that the Thames Valley’s technology, life sciences and (additionally) advanced engineering sectors will continue to be the driving force of growth in the region’s recovery effort. The report, ‘Assessing the impact of COVID-19 on the Thames Valley’, examines the effect of the pandemic on the region up to August 2020, providing insights into the strengths and that have contributed to the region’s resilience in the face of COVID-19 challenges.

According to this report, the Thames Valley is likely to remain one of the UK’s fastest growing regions, with a forecast GVA growth of 9.99% until 2025; this is significantly higher than the UK rate of growth (8.04%) over the same period. In the medium-term, the region is forecast to outperform the UK’s average GVA growth from 2019 to 2025. In fact, the prominent sectors are expected to become increasingly productive up to 2025, with GVA growth outstripping employment growth by 7%.

Access the full report HERE.

“We continue to believe that more coherent and integrated thinking across the Thames Valley region will help to promote cooperation and growth, accelerating the recovery from COVID-19. Material and lasting change is more likely if the business community expresses itself in a joined-up and cohesive way.”

Richard Baker, Managing Partner Thames Valley and South


“These reports reflect the continued success of our most prominent and competitive sectors, in which COVID-19 has only brought a renewed interest, and which will benefit the Thames Valley’s recovery from the pandemic. We echo the reflection, and witness through the work of the Chamber that the united network of businesses in the region, irrespective of administrative boundaries, will expedite the recovery.

Paul Britton, CEO Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce