Local government and research leaders from across the North West have submitted a manifesto to government, proposing measures to drive regional innovation.
Signatories include Cheshire and Warrington LEP Chief Executive, Philip Cox, Dr Seamus O’Neill, Chief Executive of the Northern Health Science Alliance, university leaders and Liverpool and Greater Manchester mayors, Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham, among others.
The ten-point manifesto, which has been sent to Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, sets out measures to increase productivity and level-up the UK economy through innovation. The response of the science and technology sector, both in the North West and nationwide, during the Covid-19 pandemic has also brought the issue of support for innovation in the sector to the fore.
The manifesto follows the publication of a report produced for Alderley Park owners and the UK’s largest science and innovation property platform, Bruntwood SciTech, into the state of the UK’s innovation infrastructure.
The manifesto calls for:
- A new national innovation policy
- A review of existing innovation infrastructure
- An emphasis on translational research to capture more of the value of UK research institutions
- A rebalancing R&D expenditure to ensure every UK region has at least one world-class centre of research – currently over 50% goes to London and the South East
- Greater support cities and regions to adopt a global mindset
- Transformation of attitudes to ensure businesses back innovation
- Devolution power, responsibility and decision making to civic leaders to best allow regions to focus on strengths
- Development of alternative and more flexible investment models
- Place-based innovation to guarantee the quality of life to attract and retain talent long-term
Chris Oglesby, chief executive, Bruntwood, said:
It can take 20 years to develop a successful innovation district, as we have seen in Manchester’s Oxford Road corridor. But it is just one of a handful in the UK today and we believe there is the potential for one in every region. We can’t afford to lose any more time and risk falling further behind on the global stage. Yes, we need more R&D investment, but of equal importance is creating thriving locations that attract talent and have the ecosystems that can support innovation-led activities. The answer lies in building on the unique strengths of the world-class academic infrastructure that already exists. Bring together all the parties needed to make new innovation happen and then work collaboratively – to grow the pie rather than fighting over it.”