Business Secretary Sajid Javid and Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson have selected the Sheffield City Region and Lancashire as one of the UK’s first Science Innovation Audit sites to identify investment opportunities and enhance research innovation and infrastructure across Britain.
The Advanced Manufacturing Corridor (AM Corridor) was proposed by a consortium which represents key innovation partners in the Sheffield City Region and Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and is led by the University of Sheffield and Lancaster University.
The pioneering consortia is one of five chosen for the first Science and Innovation Audits (SIAs) which will test the potential for these areas to build and develop world-leading ideas, products and technologies which will create jobs, increase UK productivity and drive growth.
The focus will be on the globally relevant science and technology areas that underpin advanced manufacturing now within the AM Corridor and as it evolves in the future.
The audit will investigate how much science and innovation is being produced, how good it is, and most importantly, how its outputs can build on existing investments and successes to drive the UK’s productivity from the North. It will also look into the skills needed for companies to make the most of the opportunities afforded by the current revolution in manufacturing, which brings with it the need to upskill quickly.
It will also look at new forms of higher education can be rolled out to support the adoption of new technologies in both original equipment manufacturers and supply chain companies including new apprentice based approaches to higher education.
Business Secretary Sajid Javid said: “From Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Park to the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, the UK has hot-spots of expertise that are propelling us forward in global innovation. Auditing the strengths in our regions will help us to build a long term strategy for global competitiveness and help ensure that hotspots generate more than the sum of their parts.
“Science and innovation are crucial to increasing regional productivity and growth which is why we’ve protected the science budget in real terms until 2020, and why we are developing a National Innovation Plan.”
In 2014-15 the combined annual research spend of the University of Sheffield and Lancaster University was £394 million. Both universities already develop the new technologies and knowledge that drive productivity and growth and now the SIA will provide data to help create better ways to increase international trade and build new industries.
Professor Richard Jones, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation at the University of Sheffield, said: “I’m delighted that we’ll have an early opportunity to highlight the science and innovation strengths of the Sheffield City Region.
“Working with our partners in Lancashire, we’ll be able to demonstrate the value of our technological assets in our universities, in research centres such as the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), and in outstanding companies such as BAE Systems.
“These add up to a set of resources that, when brought together, can help drive a revolution in manufacturing, driving productivity and growth in the North and throughout the whole country.”
Professor Stephen Decent, Lancaster University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, said: “Lancaster University is delighted to be in the first wave of the Science and Innovation Audits, in partnership with Lancashire LEP, BAE Systems, the University of Sheffield, University of Central Lancashire, the Sheffield City Region and others.
“This puts Lancashire and Sheffield, in partnership, at the centre of the Northern Powerhouse.
“The Science and Innovation Audit will enable us to demonstrate the world-leading research in Lancaster University Management School and our Department of Engineering, in collaboration with the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Sheffield, and to further develop the support of innovation and skills in the manufacturing small and medium sized manufacturing businesses supply chains in Northern England, which are vital for economic growth and jobs in the UK.”
A further wave of audits will be taking place over the summer and another will launch in the autumn.