Maximising the Regional Innovation
Date of Meeting:
Chair, Officer Programme Board
FOR GENERAL RELEASE
1. PURPOSE OF REPORT AND POLICY CONTEXT:
Future funding will be significantly driven by “Place”, with functional
geographies articulating opportunities to achieve significant economic and
societal change via long-term and multi-faceted collaborative partnerships.
The Greater Brighton City Region has been successful with “shovel-ready”
capital funds. The Greater Brighton Economic Board “The Board” has been ready
to respond to quick out the door calls and strategic developments. For
example, in June 2019 approximately £6.2m capital growth projects were funded
via Coast to Capital LEP.
Other cities, districts and regions in the UK have developed innovation
ecosystems across geographical “zones” such as Bath + Bristol, London to Cambridge and the Liverpool
City Region to intensify growth and prosperity. These approaches are all
at different stages of development but are reported to be yielding positive
outcomes. To address and shape its response to levelling up, place, and Shared
Prosperity agendas and compete in forthcoming funding rounds alongside
established innovation zones, the Greater Brighton City Region needs to create
a recognisable and investable innovation proposition. Attempts in recent years
to access strategic funds have demonstrated that our positioning is not strong
enough to compete against other regions or innovation-led projects despite a
number of opportunities explored in partnership with Board Members, private
companies and business networks.
The Board has supported the concept of the innovation ecosystem as a
driver of economic growth, creating high-wage jobs, igniting and attracting
high-growth industries. The innovation zone concept gives focus to the
innovation ecosystem notion taking a place-based approach to create an
ecosystem that is greater than the sum of its innovation assets. The
University of Brighton is a proponent of providing a structure to propel the
City Region to employ a coherent strategy to address medium and long-term
challenges and, critically, to secure funding to do so.
The proposition is to develop a transformational innovation zone by
coalescing the Greater Brighton City Region’s innovation excellence, knowledge
economy and place-making assets to meet the economic challenges of the next ten
The proposition supports the following Board key priorities:
- Creative: supporting
innovative businesses to scale and grow, and sharing and commercialising
- Talented: attracting and
retaining talent in the City Region, and developing an integrated
approach to talent; and,
- Resilient: building economic
resilience. It also supports GB Pledge 9 to establish an Innovation
Forum to drive forward local project delivery
The Board should set up a working group, with agreed Terms of Reference,
to investigate the development and establishment of a Greater Brighton
Innovation zone (February 2021).
The working group should investigate the relationship between
infrastructure activity and the Innovation Region proposition (March – June
The working group should report back to the July/October 2021 Greater
Brighton Economic Board on the initial findings of the Working Group.
CONTEXT/ BACKGROUND INFORMATION:
The Opportunity – An Innovation Region
The Innovation Region seeks to coalesce existing organisations and
activities, aligning the components of an innovation ecosystem: improving
people skills, connectivity and culture to achieve growth. The culture change
requires a growth mindset, with an emphasis on quality of place, public–private
partnership for place-based development, and new narratives about the
possibilities for transformation that fall outside the areas that are typically
funded. Key aspects of the Region could involve:
- Co-ordination between public and
private innovation assets.
- Working together on the Place agenda
both politically and with business and industry.
- Linking innovation skills and people
into the economic development board in a way that hasn’t happened in the
- Embedding infrastructure programmes
into the Innovation Zone.
- Positioning ourselves to respond
quickly to maximise opportunities arising from funding schemes such as
Strength in Places, Shared Prosperity and similar.
- Moving from ‘supply side’ policy to
an innovation policy that explicitly creates demand for innovation, in
order to address society’s big strategic challenges.
The Government has reconfirmed the initial Industrial Strategy commitment
to increase UK investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027 and to increase
public funding for R&D to £22 billion per year by 2024/25 as a major stride
towards this goal. The recently published UK
Research and Development Roadmap states that the investment will be used to
raise domestic and international business investment into UK R&D,
increasing economic productivity and prosperity through new products, services and
jobs and helping to transform our public services. The Roadmap will be one of
the Government’s tools to re-balance regional inequality in terms of prosperity
and productivity. The Roadmap current states “We (the Government) will work
collaboratively across the UK, fostering greater collaboration and networks
between funders, researchers, practitioners and civic leaders to embed a system
that delivers stronger local economic benefit and improved quality of life
outcomes from R&D. We will do this through publishing a new UK R&D
Place Strategy later this year to unlock local growth and societal benefit from
R&D across the UK”.
The Coast to Capital Local Industrial Strategy Key Findings Innovation
Ecosystem Report Part 1 notes innovation does not just happen within individual
businesses: the places where they are based act as both the sites where
innovation happens and as the driver in its creation. Furthermore, the same
report also notes that innovative places show great interaction with
organisations of different sizes and sectors, collaborating across their
political and organisational boundaries to mutual benefit.
The City Region’s five key strategic priorities set out aspirations for
a resilient economic partnership, connected through a knowledge, creative and
cultural economy utilising our people’s talent, skills and expertise. Working
towards a City Region Innovation zone concept builds and drives forward the
actions of the Greater Brighton Inward Investment and Covid-19 Sustainable
Recovery Plans. It also provides a framework to enable the Board to address and
shape its response to levelling up, place, and Shared Prosperity agendas.
The Greater Brighton City Region has an SME dominated mixed economy with
no primary sector or supply chain driver. However, there are clear sector
clusters: Tech and Creative; Healthcare and Life Sciences; and Advanced
Engineering. The two research active universities contribute to new knowledge,
ideas and solutions for our region’s companies utilising national funding
programmes such as Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and SMART awards but are
also delivering university knowledge exchange programmes and networks
specifically designed to support the regional ecosystem (see table 1 for
examples). Funding for regional programmes has been secured primarily from
ERDF utilising university match funding and partnerships, with universities
also self-funding additional economic and societal activities such as the
Healthy Futures Network and bringing national funding to regional activities
e.g. Green Growth Platform.
Scale-ups or companies aspiring to scale
All – with focus on engineering, immersive, digital and
Specialist academic, RD&I activity based within a
makerspace not available elsewhere.
Data-driven RD&I utilising data derived from the
operations of Gatwick Airport.
Green innovation and climate change
Business support (Not RD&)I
There is scope to create an ambitious approach to innovation across our
region using university, private and public sector open innovation expertise
that has been shown to harness collaborative growth and development activity
for businesses. Innovation hubs foster interactions but also provide
co-located space to encourage meaningful interactions and innovative thinking.
Innovation programmes such as those listed above stimulate ad support
innovation but can be confusing to navigate and would benefit from incorporation
within a recognisable innovation ecosystem. Innovation hubs coupled with
significant open innovation programmes utilise knowledge and expertise
providing a platform for the creation of an innovative place to deliver
economic growth and shared prosperity. To fully utilise our ambitions we need
to work with the Coast-to-Capital and wider partners to identify current
innovation assets, activities and gaps within the City Region. Furthermore, we
need to investigate the relationship and touch points between the Greater
Brighton One Public Estate Programme within the Innovation zone proposition as
well as integrating Greater Brighton priorities and pledges within the
Place Funding – The Landscape
The approach for delivering on place, economic development and levelling
up agendas will vary, including Local Enterprise Partnerships, MHCLG,
combined/regional Authorities, Powerhouses and UKRI. The funding will come in
many guises including the long-awaited Shared Prosperity Fund (SP), and the
Strength in Places Fund (SiPF) that invests in research and innovation projects
that aim to drive economic growth in specific areas of the UK.
SiPF has invested £186 million so far, in a first wave of consortia of
research organisations, businesses and local leadership. These projects build
on existing research excellence and supply chains and must demonstrate that
they will drive significant economic impact. Examples include:
SIPF - South Wales: CS Connected. This project is building
on regional strengths in advanced semiconductor materials and manufacturing. It
will help South Wales’ compound semiconductor industry to create 3,000 jobs by
2025, increase its direct contribution to the local economy to £265m per year,
and improve skills among local people. It will also give the UK a global
advantage in technology for sectors such as 5G communications and autonomous
vehicles. It is led by Cardiff University and has received £25 million from
the Strength in Places Fund.
SiPF - Liverpool and Cheshire: Infection Innovation
Consortium. This project will create eight specialist, commercially
sustainable research platforms for infectious disease therapeutics in
north-west England to transform product discovery and development, and help
products go from lab to patients faster, cheaper and in more effective formats.
It will generate hundreds of jobs in Liverpool and Cheshire, and attract
substantive international investment to boost the area’s economy. It is led by
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and has received £19 million from the
Strength in Places Fund. The partners include Liverpool University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust, AMR Centre, Evotec (UK), Unilever and the University of
SiPF - South-east England: Growing Kent and Medway. This
project is developing Kent and Medway as the UK’s leading region for
climate-smart food production and processing by supporting local growers and
investing in technologies such as artificial intelligence, automation, and
smart packaging. By 2030, it will create 1,700 jobs and add £39 million
annually to the local economy. It is led by NIAB EMR at East Malling and has
received £18 million from the Strength in Places Fund. The partners include
Berry Gardens Growers, Kent County Council, Medway Council, Chapel Down Group,
Gusbourne Estate, Locate in Kent, APS Produce, Thanet Earth, University of
Kent, Worldwide Fruit, NRI-University of Greenwich, Geku UK, Smurfit Kappa UK
and Richard Hochfeld.
Deliverables and Actions
Immediate opportunities and actions include;
Set up a working group with agreed Terms of Reference to
investigate the development and establishment of a Greater Brighton Innovation
zone Concept (February 2021).
Develop an initial action plan for a scoping exercise for the
development of an innovation zone concept to include resource identification,
current innovation assets, activities and gaps within the City Region (March –
Investigate the relationship between infrastructure activity and
the Innovation Region proposition (March – June 21).
Report back to the July/October 2021 Greater Brighton Economic
Board on the initial findings of the Working Group.
Marcomms to support development activity to consider branding and
& CONSIDERATION OF ANY ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS
outlined in paragraph 1.2, in recent years there has been limited success when
it comes to access strategic funds, despite a number of promising collaborative
opportunities being explored. The lack of success may, in part at least, be
because the positioning has not been strong enough to compete against other
regions or innovation-led projects.
address and shape its response to levelling up, place, and Shared Prosperity
agendas and compete in forthcoming funding rounds alongside established
innovation zones, the Greater Brighton City Region needs to create a
recognisable and investable innovation proposition.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT & CONSULTATION
The working group, once established, will involved a number of
stakeholders from across the public and private sectors. This group will shape
the direction of the work.
The working group will determine whether wider consultation is needed on
its proposals, and this activity will be performed when required.
Other areas, including Bath-Bristol and the Liverpool City Region have
started to establish innovation ecosystems across geographical “zones.” Whilst
these zones are all at different stages of development but are reported to be
yielding positive outcomes for the geographic regions they represent. If
Greater Brighton can coalesce around a recognisable and investable innovation
proposition, the City Region will be in a stronger position to compete with
other regions for the funds that are and will be available through various
FINANCIAL & OTHER IMPLICATIONS:
cost of working group will be met from within the Board’s existing budget. Any
funding opportunities resulting from the findings of the working group will be
reported back to the Board.
Officer Consulted: Rob Allen, Principal Accountant
reference to the recommendations in this report, the board has the powers to appoint task and finish member working groups which are
time-limited (six months, with the option to extend for a further six months),
in order to carry out focused pieces of work, and reporting back regularly to
Consulted: Joanne Dunyaglo, Senior Property Lawyer