Open Call: South West Futures

On July 7th, 2015, exactly two months after the General Election, we propose to run a South West Futures initiative, inspired by the ODPM’s recent Northern Futures initiative, bringing together experts and non experts on a single day in multiple locations across the region. Our aim is to establish a new style of conversation about the future of the South West’s economy by asking people to get involved in formulating a radical new growth strategy for the region. We’ll be in the wake of the National Election – as a region we need to be ready for change, and carve our own direction.

This is an open call to local leaders, businesses and experts in housing, transport, planning, science and education across the South West to answer the fundamental question:

“How should we draw on the unique strengths of the region to build a thriving economic core in the South West that can compete with the leading cities and regions in the world?”

What will happen on the day?

Up to five parallel events will be held simultaneously in accessible locations, across the region on the same day, to share ideas and develop solutions using a mixture of creative problem solving tools and design thinking methods. Teams will respond in each locality to come up with ideas and propose solutions over the course of a day, which will all be shared online.

The benefit for attendees will be the opportunity to network with all sectors in the locality with a view to informing a cohesive way ahead for the region. The benefit for the region will be a cohesive voice on contemporary issues, and more aligned approaches to policy and action..

What happens afterwards?

A month later we will run a single summit style event reconvening the main funders, policy makers and other stakeholders to reflect on and distill the outcomes from the open ideas day, so that it can directly inform policies and projects. We are seeking commitment from stakeholders and funders to trial and pilot some of the solutions proposed.

Who’s behind it?

The project steering group is made up of Phillippa Rose, Nick Parker, Kathryn Woolf and Ben Rom. Two of us ran events for Northern Futures. Three of us are RSA Fellows. All of us are committing time and energy to making South West Futures happen.

So far, Devon County Council and Sea Communications are partnering the initiative, with RSA, The Met Office, University of Exeter and Cornwall County Council keen to support the events. We are also talking to industry bodies Manufacturing Advisory Service, CCSkills, and the UKTI who can help. The Cabinet Office has offered to share best practice and lessons learned from the recent Northern Futures initiative.

How can you get involved?

  • We are looking for resources and expertise to host events
  • We are seeking ideas – what issues and challenges should we explore
  • We are looking for people to help spread the word and participate.

Please register interest or support by emailing

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