Case Study

Petroc College

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The South West Business Council (SWBC) recently supported one of the South West’s further and higher education providers Petroc by facilitating the development of business relationships with third-parties, to extend their network and reach.

Petroc provides further and higher education across the South West via its three campuses, and is based in the heart of the North Devon Biosphere. The award-winning education provider specialises in courses for those aged 16+ and offers academic and vocational study programmes, from construction to catering at T and A-Levels and degree level.

Petroc hosted and co-sponsored the SWBC’s Natural Capital Quarterly Conference, held in conjunction with the North Devon Biosphere, on September 7th 2022 at the college’s Centre of Technology and Innovation Excellence. The event included an esteemed keynote speaker line-up of world-class academics and politicians, and provided valuable networking and discussion at the college’s Barnstaple campus.

As SWBC Gold members, the college has benefitted from numerous opportunities to build partnerships within SWBC’s network of contacts. Their involvement with the Natural Capital Quarterly Conference is one example of this, through which they were able to reinforce important relationships and establish new projects with academics and businesses in the region.

SWBC have also aided communications between Petroc and the Satellite Applications Catapult project, which is working to develop an environmental living lab at Petroc’s Barnstaple campus: an aqua-tech infrastructure and research centre for students and local businesses.

The Council further supported Petroc’s involvement with the development of the environmental living lab by providing them with regional insights to help tailor the facility for the South West. Petroc is estimated to see a third of a million pounds investment from the project.

Furthermore, SWBC are working alongside Petroc on a project at Appledore, which involves the development of a centre for Floating Offshore Wind (FLOW) as a clean maritime solution. The Council have supplied their sound intelligence on regional business and national government, to provide sectoral advice on matters concerning its development.

SWBC also recently supported Petroc to foster a positive working relationship with Siemens, by brokering meetings with senior business leaders. Bridging these connections has led to discussions between the two organisations surrounding the adoption of cutting-edge environmental technology, as part of a research hub at the college.

Bill Blythe, Vice Principal for Finance, Resources and Regional Affairs at Petroc College said: “Our membership of SWBC provides us with a focused view of the South West economy, including new and growing sectors, to benefit our mission of developing skills pathways to meet employers needs.”

“Through the lateral approach the Council takes towards supporting their long-standing and valued members, Petroc have become involved in a series of regional projects, which will benefit research and education in the South West. “

“SWBC represents the region as a whole because they understand the objectives of different sub-regions and we are incredibly grateful and proud of our partnership with them.”

Paul Coles, CEO of the South West Business Council, said: “SWBC recognise the importance of further education providers, such as Petroc, who work to fill skills gaps, promote employment and support the economy in the South West.

“We support our members by establishing important introductions and bridging new connections that encourage the development of ideas that can benefit the region.

“Petroc acts as an important part of our network by providing opportunities for individuals to upskill in the roles of tomorrow, producing innovative approaches for businesses in the South West that meet the challenges of today.”

To find out more about South West Business Council membership, please visit:

To find out more about Petroc College, please visit: