Yorkshire leaders sign manifesto to boost innovation in the region

Leaders from across Yorkshire’s local and civic government, universities and research institutions have signed a new manifesto to boost the nation’s regional innovation potential.

The signatories – which include Martin Farrington, director, city development at Leeds City Council, Andrew Cooper, chief executive of Leeds BID, and Sandy Needham, chief executive of the West and North Yorkshire Chamber – have pledged their support for commitments to increase productivity through innovation, levelling-up the economy and supporting the UK’s COVID bounce-back.

Other signatories include Lord Jim O’Neill, vice chair, Northern Powerhouse Partnership, Andy Burnham, Mayor, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Andy Street, Mayor, West Midlands Combined Authority and Julie Wagner, president, Global Institute on Innovation Districts..

The manifesto follows the publication of a new report produced for Bruntwood SciTech, a 50:50 joint venture between Bruntwood and Legal & General, into the current state of the UK’s innovation infrastructure.

The 10-point manifesto includes a call for a new national innovation policy, a target for every UK region to have a centre of world-class research excellence by 2040 and greater collaboration between UK cities, in order to boost science and technology innovation.

It manifesto calls on more businesses, with the support of the public sector, to back new ideas and innovation-based activities to increase the capacity of UK cities, improving their ability to convert investment into innovation, jobs and growth.

A copy of the manifesto and its signatories has now been sent to MP Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to call for his department’s support.

Nigel Wilson, chief executive, Legal & General, said: “The UK is world leading in scientific research and discovery. It has an army of talented tech entrepreneurs.

“But we consistently fail to turn enough ideas into new jobs and growth. The Government’s commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP by 2027 is welcome, but without support for places to develop their innovation ecosystems over the long term, meeting the target will still miss the point.

“As a business, L&G has invested more than £25bn in levelling up regional economies; through new homes, science parks, roads, wind farms, business start-ups and digital infrastructure.

“We have 134 projects across the country worth £6.3bn – with another £6.8bn in planning.

“But as a country, we need to do more. Today’s manifesto, with the backing of so many of the UK’s leading figures, provides a roadmap for the UK to continue to thrive.”

Chris Oglesby, chief executive at Bruntwood, added: “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 in our cities.”

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