A “cutting-edge” aerospace innovation centre, iAero, has been constructed in Yeovil to present Somerset’s commitment to the aerospace industry.
Somerset County Council is working with companies such as Leonardo Helicopters and local partners on the iAero Centre. Willmott Dixon, contractors owned by Leonardo, began the construction in 2019 and aim for it to be fully operational by 2021.
It is expected that the construction will encourage “innovation, collaboration and growth in the aerospace sector”, making Yeovil a significant contributor in the aerospace sector in the UK. Partners in the iAero Centre programme signed a steel column during a special ceremony to signify “a significant milestone in this major and exciting project” commented Councilor David Hall, Cabinet Member for Development, Planning and Community Infrastructure.
It is hoped that iAero will aid the economic prosperity for Somerset by increasing job prospects, as well as benefiting the UK’s aerospace industry. Rob Woolcock, Director of Willmott Dixon has claimed that the company has engaged with over 850 local young people, many visiting the site to learn more about the project. Additionally, the company has offered three Yeovil College students work experience placements and provided several people with long-term employment.
Woolcock commented, “This work is important to us as a business, as we want to make sure that our projects deliver the greatest impact for the local community, and they help inspire the next generation.
The iAero Centre is being supported by Somerset County Council, the European Regional Development Fund who offered over £3m, and the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership who put £3.4m towards the project. The European Regional Development Fund looks to stimulate economic development which creates jobs and local community regenerations.
“As the world faces an increasing climate emergency – innovation, technology and skill will be needed to rise to the challenges of our modern world. iAero will bring together partnerships, people and projects under one roof,” said Sarah Cook, Leonardo’s VP for UK Government Business. “Cutting-edge ideas and dynamic technologies will form the research development and innovation that takes place; exploring and experimenting, utilizing and developing skills. The future will be created here and that creates a prosperous future for our wider community.”