Science & Innovation boost for the East

In his Autumn Statement, The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that a Science & Innovation Audit (SIA) will be conducted in the East of England. The decision was made in response to a regional submission from a wide-ranging consortium led by industry and academia, initiated and facilitated by four of the region’s LEPs, led by Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership and covering the geographies of New Anglia LEP, Hertfordshire LEP and the Essex part of South East LEP.

Science & Innovation audits are, in essence, a ‘deep dive’ survey of cutting-edge innovation taking place in industry and the public sector, and are being conducted to better inform central Government of regional strengths for potential future funding streams, and to assist with foreign direct investment.

Taken together with the Prime Minister’s announcement this week of an additional £2 billion investment in Research & Development nationally, and the new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to back priority technologies, this is a significant step forward for the East.

Professor Nigel Slater, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge and Chairman of the area’s Science Industry and Innovation Council said: “Cambridge is world renowned as a focus of technology driven business innovation and I am delighted that we shall now have the opportunity to demonstrate the strengths and opportunities of our outstanding businesses in the Life Sciences, Agri-Tech, Advanced Engineering & Materials and High Value Manufacturing and Information & Communications Technology.”

Dr. Martino Picardo, CEO of the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC), who will lead the Life Sciences audit, said: “SBC is delighted with the news. We look forward to working with colleagues in the region and to a positive outcome that will benefit our community and influence future policy.”

Dr. Andrew Spencer, Head of Knowledge Exchange and Transfer at Rothamsted Research, who will lead the Agri-Tech audit said: “Rothamsted is delighted that government has recognised the strength of the Agri-Tech sector in the East of England and awarded a Science and Innovation Audit to the region. The audit will provide the region with the tools to comprehensively map key strengths in agri-science and innovation and help the region to capitalise on its outstanding innovation strengths and secure rewards for scientific excellence across the region.”

Peter Oakley, Associate Director, TWI, who will lead the audit in Advanced Engineering & Materials and High-Value Manufacturing said: “The East of England is a diverse, but very capable region in the field of advanced engineering, materials and high value manufacturing, and the SIA will enable the community to present its strengths and science and innovation capabilities in a comprehensive and unified way. It will identify current linkages and networks both within and outside of the region, and engender more effective future collaboration and cooperation to the benefit of both the region and the UK.”

Jonathan Legh-Smith, Head of Partnerships & Strategic Research of BT plc, Martlesham Heath, who will lead the ICT audit said: “BT is delighted that the SIA will provide the opportunity to collect the data to provide compelling evidence of the region’s strengths in ICT and identify concrete actions to firmly place the region at the national level.”

Speaking on behalf of all four facilitating LEPs, Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Chairman, Mark Reeve, said: “We are pleased that the Government has recognised the highly collaborative approach we have taken in bringing together a strong partnership of industry experts and academia who are keen to work together for the future of their sector. This collaboration will ensure that the current and emerging science and innovation strengths of our area can be presented to Government in a cohesive and compelling manner to help stimulate investment and future prosperity.”