NWBLT launch Science & Innovation report

March 28th, 2014

NWBLT Science Report Launch red

North West set for innovation boom

as business calls for sustained R&D investment



The North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT) has today released a detailed report into the science and innovation potential of the North West, highlighting that business could be set to gain significantly from the well-established R&D capacity available across the region.

The influential grouping is publishing its report, ‘Exploiting the Excellence’, at the Museum of Science and Industry on 28th March, with keynote speeches by Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester, and Andrew Miller MP, Chair of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.  The NWBLT companies, which employ more than 50,000 people in the region, collaborated with universities, centres of R&D excellence alongside Local Enterprise Partnerships to highlight the region’s capability to be at the heart of an “innovation revolution”.

The report details the fields of science and technology in which the North West has become ‘world class’. It reveals that the region has acquired an international reputation of excellence particularly in the fields of advanced materials, energy, cancer and high performance computing.

The NWBLT has called for the region to be transformed into an attractive place for technology based SMEs to flourish. This could be achieved by tackling the existing barriers to investment and growth – in particular, by working with the Local Enterprise Partnerships in each sub-region via the North West Fund. The grouping has said substantial venture capital must be in place to support growth in science, technology and innovation companies, and that this should be a priority for the region.

The report highlights the need for an international marketing strategy to sell the North West as a highly competitive and innovative market place. Within this, an integrated offering and a full North West R&D Prospectus should be developed in order to help market the region in a more strategic and integrated fashion.

Juergen Maier, NWBLT Chair and MD of Siemens Industry UK, said: “What is clear is that as a region we have the infrastructure in place to be at the heart of an innovation boom. If this is to happen we need to leverage business investment and marry it with our great universities to ensure we can create growth through technology.

“We also need to marshal our resources as a region and market these strengths in critical markets globally. Our region has a strong history of innovation and real talent when it comes to research and development. Our call to action should be more focus, establishing more areas of world-class research – which in turn will result in more investment from international companies.

“The report notes a number of world class innovation strengths in the North West. Amongst these are Advanced Materials and High Performance Computing. The NWBLT will therefore be making a strong case for the £42m Alan Turing Institute for big data announced in last week’s Budget to be centred around the North West’s existing excellence in this area. Similarly, research activities around Graphene should be focused around the North West’s current world-class activities on Advanced Materials. By creating such eco-systems we have the best chance for the UK as a whole to lead the world in these areas and create an innovation revolution that maximises local jobs and wealth creation.”

The report also noted that businesses and local universities develop successfully through investing in core innovation infrastructure and the North West should firmly establish itself as a global centre of excellence.

One of the region’s most notable features is the strength of its university sector which consistently achieves very high research rankings and performs increasingly valuable roles in developing the skills needed by today’s innovative businesses. The report advises these should be leveraged even further

Dr Chris Doherty, Vice-President, AstraZeneca R&D, argues that commercial R&D developed at local universities is translated into solid economic growth by ensuring there is alignment with the UK Industrial Strategy which focuses on a number of technologies, including life sciences and advanced materials. “These areas can be successfully developed in established innovation clusters within the North West and the report calls for deliberate and sustained development of these ecosystems,” he said.

David Pinder, CEO Baxi UK,  said: “The critical issue for the North West is to develop a portfolio of leading edge collaborative R&D facilities which can fully support the innovation needs of businesses located here and their wider supply chains, and to attract international business relocations and investment.”

“While businesses and research organisations in the North West have found innovative ways of working together, there is  further potential to make a larger contribution to the UK’s innovation excellence and competitiveness by increasing our collaborative efforts across the North West, the UK and indeed internationally.”

The NWBLT surveyed and collaborated with group members and other organisations in the North West in compiling this report, including Siemens, Baxi, AstraZeneca, The University of Manchester, Unilever Research Laboratory, Sci-Tech Daresbury, the universities of Liverpool and Lancaster, NSG Pilkington, and CTech Innovation.

To download a copy of “Exploiting the Excellence” please visit www.nwblt.com

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