At the core of the industrial strategy for both Greater Manchester (GM) and Cheshire East (CE) is the need to harness knowledge, innovation, skills and infrastructure to drive the local economy, create jobs and raise productivity. Realisation of the full potential from our science and innovation strengths will also benefit wider global societal challenges. These include climate change, energy security, transport efficiency, and a sustainable health and social care system. Informed by the results of our Smart Specialisation Platform analysis, emerging imperatives for growing the economy of the Northern Powerhouse and devolution of the health and social care budget to GM, we identified two ‘areas’ of focus for this Science and Innovation Audit (SIA):
1. ‘Core Strengths’ in Health Innovation and Advanced Materials, where we have existing, internationally-recognised excellence.
2. ‘Fast Growth Opportunities’ focused on the future potential of Digital, Energy, and Industrial Biotechnology, where our assets and capabilities offer real scope for future development.
Our integrated governance, deep culture of collaboration between government, business, academia, and health, and strong partnership between GM and EC gives a powerful platform to implement the opportunities shown in the Audit. We will work with partners nationally (including across the North) and internationally as we pursue global export and inward investment opportunities.
The region is characterised by an exceptional level of partnership and connectivity. There are close strategic and operational collaborations between our universities, the business community, local government and public sector partners, health and social care providers, and charities. Connectivity is demonstrated by a series of strategic alliances, e.g. in healthcare and medicine (see strengths above); and national and international networks (e.g. EU €1bn Graphene Flagship, £20m Connected Health Cities, UK’s only Internet of Things demonstrator (CityVerve), and other assets noted above). We already have strong international partnerships in each of the areas of strength identified and rapidly growing interest from global companies to have a footprint in GM (particularly at Citylabs) and EC (notably Alderley Park). Major multi-national companies include NCC Group, NNL, NuGen, Hitachi, BP, Amec-Foster-Wheeler, Waters, Cisco and AstraZeneca.
The audit process has driven added-value in verifying our own internal assessments of strengths, weaknesses and opportunities; strengthening our collaborations across the region; building on our partnerships; and identifying future priorities, particularly for innovation and business development. During the process, we held 10 meetings with over 40 partners - including 20 companies and two workshops (health innovation, and advanced materials). This led to the reinforcement of our strategy with other partners, introduction of industry partners to each other and important feedback, development of new collaborations and identification of areas that need to be strengthened. For example, UoM, MMU and the University of Salford are now working together on health education and innovation; while LEPS across the North are collaborating more closely on joint actions to understand and drive innovation.
The Audit has demonstrated a historic opportunity to develop our innovation ecosystem as an accelerated pathway to the market for regional and national social and economic benefit. It provides us with a platform for shared action going forward.
You can download the report here.