Midlands’ innovation hailed in latest Data City index

The Midlands has significant strengths across a range of sectors including AI and data, clean growth, advanced manufacturing and ageing society, according to the latest UK Tech Innovation Index released today.

The index shows the most active innovation communities in the UK by categories and aims to go beyond standard geographies to reveal previously unseen business and academic links across cities and county boundaries.

It also demonstrates that innovation communities are often made up of groups of cities or conurbations.

The West Midlands scores very highly in each of the categories. Clusters formed around Birmingham, almost always including Coventry, come in the top 10 in every category, including a very strong smart cities and mobility cluster, and ranking second in clean growth and ageing society, and fourth in AI and data.

Stoke appears in the top 10 clusters overall and in smart cities and mobility, both times joined into the North West cluster formed around Manchester.

The East Midlands also scores highly, with a Leicester/Nottingham/Derby cluster ranking third for clean growth, ageing society and advanced manufacturing, while coming fifth for AI and data and seventh for smart cities and mobility.

The most notable clusters in the Midlands are:

●Birmingham and Coventry – Smart Cities and Mobility (2), Clean Growth (2), Ageing Society (2), AI and Data (4)
●Leicester, Nottingham and Derby – Clean Growth (3), Ageing Society (3), Advanced Manufacturing (3), AI and Data (5)

The top 10 overall clusters across all sectors are shown below, including the percentage of activity in the UK as a whole

Top 10

Rank Cluster Region(s) Percentage
1 London, Luton Greater London, East 21.5%
2 Birmingham, Coventry West Midlands 7.3%
3 Manchester, Stoke, Burnley North West, West Midlands 6.4%
4 Reading, Aldershot, Slough South East 5.0%
5 Bristol, Cardiff, Newport South West, Wales 5.0%
6 Oxford, Northampton, Milton Keynes South East 4.7%
7 Leicester, Nottingham East Midlands 4.7%
8 Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford, Barnsley, Huddersfield, Wakefield Yorkshire and the Humber 4.7%
9 Romford, Dartford Greater London, South East 4.0%
10 Edinburgh, Dundee Scotland 3.9%

The index has also been developed using the influence, specialisms and location of universities and other academic institutions, and the concentration of events and networking opportunities in an area, as well as business activity.

It is published by Data City with support from the Open Data Institute (ODI). The project is part of the ODI’s innovation programme, a three-year, £6m scheme to support and build upon the UK’s strengths in data and data analytics, funded by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency.

Tom Forth, co-founder and head of data at The Data City, who led the project, explains how it is different from other pieces of innovation research.

“With this index, we are providing an evidence base for better-informed decisions within the UK government and beyond, and are sharing many of our methods and documenting the datasets we use so that others can benefit from them.

“Our new approach covers more of the UK, and by using many times more data points we have found and measured more clusters of innovation, and more of them away from cities. With millions of rows of data, and thousands more rows being added every week, we no longer classify businesses and events by hand, we use machine-learning techniques instead. We are also explaining what would be possible if more data were available to us in the future, in the hope that it will be.”

“We believe this information will help private investors looking to invest in companies, existing businesses looking to expand, national government departments looking to assign investment and local and regional governments looking to assign funding locally or make a case for inward investment to their regions.
Jeni Tennison, CEO at the Open Data Institute, said:
“This new index gives a bird’s eye view of innovation networks across the UK in 2018, providing not only an interactive online tool but regularly updated open datasets that others can use and explore.

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