Sectors Strengths & Expertise

The South East Midlands is especially strong in High Performance Technology, including Connected and Autonomous Vehicles and Next Generation Transport more generally, Manufacturing and Advanced Technology (particularly with regards to Food and Drink and Footwear; Logistics and the Creative and Cultural sector.

Innovation and high performance technology

Clusters and sites:

  • Cranfield: Aerospace Integration Research Centre, Aerospace Technology Institute
  • Luton Airport Enterprise Zone: aerospace businesses and advanced engineering
  • Northampton Waterside Enterprise Zone automotive
  • Millbrook Proving Ground
  • Silverstone Technology Cluster engineering innovation and business development
  • Connected Places Catapult 

Examples of key businesses:

  • Aston Martin
  • Cosworth
  • GE Precision Engineering
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Mahle Powertrain
  • Mercedes
  • Nissan European Research Centre
  • Prodrive
  • Red Bull
  • KS Special Projects

Manufacturing & advanced technology

Clusters and sites:

  • Colworth Park: home to Unilever’s Global Development Centre and R&D
  • Food Enterprise Zone in Central Beds
  • Northamptonshire Food & Drink cluster
  • Footwear industry cluster in Northamptonshire

Examples of key businesses:

  • Food and Drink: Arla, Alpro, Brioche Pasquier, Carlsberg, Charles Wells, Jordans, Mondelez, Ryvita, Unilever, Weetabix.
  • Footwear: Cheaney, Church’s, Jeffrey West, John Lobb, SATRA, Stamp and Chancery.

Logistics & supply chain

SEMLEP’s 2021 Logistics Brochure:

In a period of rapid change for global logistics, the South East Midlands retains its position as first
the choice for logistics and supply chain operators.

Examples of key businesses:

  • Distribution Centre for: AG Barr, Booker, John Lewis, Primark, River Island, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose.
  • Wholesalers: Bedford Continental, Medallion Foods, Jungheinrich, Cinram, RS Components.

Clusters and sites:

  • Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal (DRIFT): a nationally-important rail freight distribution centre.
  • Magna Park: a major distribution centre between junctions 13 and 14 of M1.
  • Midlands Logistics Park: its location on the A14 in Corby allows access to both the East Coast Ports, and the Midlands/South East Markets.
  • Proposals for four new rail freight hubs.

Creative & Culture

Clusters and sites:

  • Milton Keynes: second highest proportion of SMEs in the high-tech and digital sectors.
  • MK: Smart Initiative (led by The Open University in partnership with BT and Milton Keynes Council): an internationally prominent Smart City programme.
  • Nene Valley
  • Digital Northampton 

Examples of key attractions and assets:

  • Visitor attractions: Woburn Abbey, Whipsnade Zoo, Waddesdon Manor, Wrest park, Althorp House, Bicester Village, Rockingham Castle, Stowe House and Landscape Gardens, Bletchley Park
  • Sporting attractions including rugby, football, motorsport, speedway and horseracing
  • Greensands Ridgewalk, The Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty