22-Mar-2021 Source: Leonardo
The iAero Centre, a cutting-edge aerospace innovation facility in Yeovil, is flying high with completion of construction work and the start of the centre’s fit-out.
Somerset County Council has worked with a range of partners to develop the iAero Centre which will provide high-quality workspace and specialist support services to facilitate collaboration and innovation amongst local aerospace supply chain businesses.
Contractor Willmott Dixon has now completed construction of the building on land owned by Leonardo Helicopters and the building has been handed over to Somerset County Council defect-free.
Internal fit-out is now under way with the Centre expected to open its doors to tenants and users later in 2021.
Councillor David Fothergill, Leader of the County Council, said: “We have reached a major milestone in a project that will make sure Somerset’s key position in the aerospace industry is secured and advanced.
“I must congratulate everyone involved throughout this very challenging year – projects like iAero will be vital as we start our journey towards recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.
“Aerospace is a global industry and it’s never been more important to make sure Somerset remains an attractive place for these businesses to stay, grow and innovate.”
Neal Stephens, Willmott Dixon Managing Director, said: ‘‘This was a fantastic project to be involved in, working closely with our valued client Somerset County Council and the other stakeholders to deliver an inspiring space that will help the continued growth of the aerospace sector in the South West.’’
iAero Centre construction has been funded by Somerset County Council, Government’s Local Growth Fund as part of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Deal and the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme . Fit out of the Centre is being funded by Government’s Getting Building Fund with these monies secured by Somerset County Council via the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership.
Karl Tucker, Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, said: “We are delighted to have been able to support the iAero Centre with funding from our Growth Deal and Getting Building Fund allocations, which are both designed to support projects that will contribute to local economic growth and create jobs.
“The Heart of the South West area and in particular, Somerset, has a well-established, nationally significant and globally competitive aerospace cluster. iAero will provide an important facility for enabling innovation and collaboration in the sector, as well as supporting it to transition into sustainable and smart technologies, proving that the South West can be at the cutting edge of reducing emissions.”
Nick Whitney, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters (UK), said: “The “i” in iAero stands for innovation, a keystone that supports the technological exploration, the skills, and progression in aerospace technologies that will be made at the iAero Centre. Leonardo is actively pursuing engagement through collaboration on a wide range of technologies that will not only move its business forward but also industry as a whole.
“iAero can complement our business and others by rapidly testing and proving new ideas. I look forward to seeing stakeholders educating and engaging with the local community on iAero’s potential and seeing young people getting involved in the science and engineering of aerospace on their doorstep.”
The two-storey building will provide flexible office, workshop, collaboration and meeting spaces, as well as specialist innovation support services.
Somerset County Council and Willmott Dixon made sure the project delivered additional benefits throughout the construction programme, including apprenticeships, work placements, jobs for the local community, and donation of resources to local community projects. In addition, more than half of the people working on the project were from within 40 miles of the project and the building is on track to achieve a ‘BREEAM Excellent’ rating for its environmental sustainability performance.