Secretary of State for Wales visits HiVE for sod cutting ceremony

9 October 2023

The new HiVE facility will provide state-of-the art training

The Secretary of State for Wales, David TC Davies, visited the former Monwel Hankinson factory, Ebbw Vale to see first hand the future High Value Engineering (HiVE) facility. 

Mr. Davies, along with contractors ISG, Blaenau Gwent County Councillor John Morgan, Alun Davies MS for Blaenau Gwent and Coleg Gwent Vice Principal Nikki Gamlin, toured the site where the construction of a new multi-million-pound hi-tech education facility is underway. 

The new 21,808-square-foot facility will offer high-tech training and education for young people and businesses in robotics, and advanced manufacturing in fields such as automotive, aerospace, and information technology. 

In partnership with Coleg Gwent, and industry partners, Blaenau Gwent County Council secured £9 million from the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund and £3.9 million from the Welsh Government’s Tech Valleys programme to bring the redundant factory building back into use, and to promote regeneration within the local community supporting the aims of the Levelling Up Initiative. 

The Welsh Secretary was briefed on the function of HiVE, which provides teaching spaces for up to 600 students, including classrooms, study areas, and workshop spaces.  

Located close to Ebbw Vale town centre and the Coleg Gwent Blaenau Gwent Learning Zone, the facility will be available to all residents across Wales as well as students at Coleg Gwent studying engineering-based courses, helping to facilitate and increase footfall across the town centre supporting local retail business. 

Finally, Mr. Davies learned that the space will be kitted out with state-of-the-art robotics and manufacturing equipment including CNC machinery, metal 3D printing, augmented reality, CAD/CAM, virtual reality, autonomous driving, drones and automotive vehicle technology. 

The plan is to introduce students to HiVE from Autumn 2024. 

Nicola Gamlin, Vice Principal of Coleg Gwent said: 

“It was a pleasure to host the Secretary of State for Wales at our HiVE project site. As the demand for STEM knowledge and skills continues to increase in the local economy, Coleg Gwent’s goal is to educate future workers in a specialised facility, surrounded by innovative technology that reflects industry practices. Our ambition is to equip learners with the necessary tools to meet the demands of the workforce of the future.” 

David TC Davies, Secretary of State for Wales said: 

“I was delighted to visit the HiVE site and meet some of the people who are working so hard to build this facility. It is fantastic to see funding from the UK Government and our partners being invested in providing such a great facility to train young people and enable them to find well paid, skilled work. 

“This project is at the heart of our ambition for Levelling Up in Wales, providing opportunities for the future and spreading prosperity.” 

Councillor John Morgan, Cabinet Member for Place and Regeneration at Blaenau Gwent Council commented:  

“I am sure that this exciting project will be a catalyst to create highly skilled local jobs and long-term economic growth for the area. It was great to welcome our guests today and to see the progress already being made to develop the state-of-the-art education and training facility here in Blaenau Gwent.” 

Read more about our HiVE development here.