Greater Manchester will host a pilot ‘Innovation Accelerator’ as part of the government’s new Levelling Up Strategy, which seeks to level the playing field between London and the rest of the UK.
The 300-page Levelling Up White Paper sets out 12 key ‘missions’ the government hopes will spread opportunity and prosperity more equally across the country.
One of the most significant is to increase public investment in research and development (R&D) outside of London and the South East by at least 40 per cent by 2030, potentially opening up more opportunities for businesses in the North to innovate and develop new products or services.
As part of this mission, Greater Manchester will host one of three new pilot £100 million ‘Innovation Accelerators’ designed to replicate the private-public-academic partnerships trailblazed by the likes of Silicon Valley in the US.
Full details are yet to be revealed, but the Accelerator is likely to focus on Greater Manchester’s existing strengths in areas like advanced materials.
Cllr Elise Wilson, Greater Manchester Combined Authority Lead for Economy, said the announcement was a “clear vote of confidence” in the city region:
“Every business, in every sector, and in every part of Greater Manchester, has the opportunity to benefit from our innovation ecosystem. From working with local universities to develop new products and services, through to adopting technologies with support from the Business Growth Hub, the benefits of innovation can be felt by everyone.”
Other missions in the Levelling Up White Paper include bringing regional public transport systems closer to London standards, providing access to 5G broadband for the large majority of the country, and significantly increasing the number of people completing high quality skills training in every area of the UK.
On manufacturing in particular, the government said it wanted to “ensure that manufacturers, from across all sub-sectors and in all parts of the UK, are automating, decarbonising and building resilience by 2030”.
Commenting on the strategy, Stephen Phipson, Chief Executive of manufacturers’ organisation Make UK, said:
“The manufacturing sector has a significant presence in exactly the areas which need levelling up and is playing a vital role in delivering high value skills. While there is substantially more to be done, the Levelling Up Strategy’s focus on skills and innovation, together with an emphasis on infrastructure and place, is the right starting point.”