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Interim chairs of Enterprise M3 partnership announced

Two business and industry leaders have been chosen to help establish the new Enterprise M3 local enterprise partnership and drive forward its benefits for the local economy.

Geoff French, of URS Scott Wilson, is the interim chair and John Copley, of Farnborough Aerospace Consortium, is the interim vice chair of Enterprise M3, which was approved by the Government as a local enterprise partnership (LEP) last month.  They will help to establish the new-style partnership that will work across the north Hampshire and north west Surrey area, bringing together major companies, other businesses and business representatives with the local councils, universities, colleges and other public services making decisions that affect the area’s economy.

Geoff oversaw the growth of the Scott Wilson business both in the UK and the major international business centres around the world, ensuring the group’s continued position in the top ten UK engineering consultancies.  Recently the company has been acquired by URS.  He is president elect of the International Federation of Consulting Engineers, past Chairman of the ACE (Association for Consultancy and Engineering) in the UK and Vice President of the Institution of Civil Engineers. With over 40 years’ experience providing transportation and development advice to central government, banks, major developers, local government and international funding agencies, he has been involved in a number of high profile national and international projects.

Geoff said: “The Enterprise M3 local enterprise partnership provides a great opportunity to debate and influence the major issues that affect all of us.  Our immediate task is to establish a structure that will enable that debate and influence to flourish while ensuring that all sectors of the community have a voice - businesses, local authorities, education establishments and the voluntary sector from both urban and rural areas and from right across the Enterprise M3 area.  This is a formidable challenge but one that provides us with the opportunity to deliver real improvements for our area.”

John is the CEO of the Farnborough Aerospace Consortium, the trade association for the aerospace and defence industry in south east England.  John holds a first class honours degree in Chemical Physics and an MBA, and is a Chartered Director and Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.  He previously worked in the UK Ministry of Defence, undertaking a wide variety of roles in the research establishments, policy secretariats and private office of the Minister for Defence Procurement. He also worked for Thales, initially as Strategy Director for Thales UK and subsequently in general management roles as Managing Director of Thales Missile Electronics Ltd in Basingstoke and Vice President for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Global Business Line. 

John said: “The formation of the Enterprise M3 local enterprise partnership is a good step forward in establishing the infrastructure to undertake the crucially important task of supporting businesses in furthering their economic prosperity and development, through strong collaborative partnerships between business and local government as well as a wide range of partner organisations.  I am very pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to building economic prosperity in all sectors, including advanced engineering which is clearly recognised as one of the key sectors that offers continued high quality employment and sustainable long term growth through the UK’s strong presence in international markets."

Formal appointments to the Enterprise M3 board will be made following a conference planned for early April to identify key priorities to meet the needs of businesses, from large multi-national companies to sole traders and start-ups, in an environmentally sustainable way.  Priorities are likely to include transport, skills, broadband and investment.

The LEP covers the areas of Basingstoke and Deane, East Hants, Hart, New Forest, Rushmoor, Test Valley and  Winchester in Hampshire and Guildford, Surrey Heath, Waverley and Woking in Surrey, working across traditional boundaries to make a real difference to the people who live and work in the area.