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Innovation Greater Manchester provides blueprint for boosting R&D investment and levelling up North

@GMLEP – A blueprint for translational innovation between Greater Manchester and Government catalysing inclusive economic growth could generate a £7bn economic benefit and support the UK in achieving its goals of levelling up the North and increasing global trade.

Leading innovators from business, science, academia and local government have developed the Innovation Greater Manchester partnership as the basis of a formal collaboration deal with Government, suggesting it could create 100,000 jobs and boost the economy by £7bn.

Innovation Greater Manchester is a key pillar of the city-region’s Economic Vision, the plan to deliver a fairer, greener and more productive Greater Manchester economy beyond the pandemic. It would leverage and accelerate the success of Greater Manchester’s existing research and development (R&D) hubs in global frontier sectors, including advanced materials and manufacturing, health innovation, digital and creative, and clean growth.

They would drive economic growth in all parts of the conurbation through R&D commercialisation and industrialisation within a series of new and existing Innovation Zones across the region’s towns and cities.

Businesses would be supported to grow and drive economic development, resulting in updated skills, good employment and places where people want to invest.

This would support government ambitions for global Britain by delivering new opportunities for international trade and co-operation to address global challenges, including climate change.

Bringing together local and national agencies to support an innovation cluster spanning the city-region would help to attract significant inward investment and close the R&D expenditure gap in Greater Manchester and the North, eventually creating an innovation ‘supercluster’ that would significantly add to UK plc and advance the levelling up agenda.

By aligning R&D investment with socioeconomic need, Innovation Greater Manchester would deliver sustainable and inclusive growth where it is most needed.

The Innovation Greater Manchester partnership blueprint proposes:

  • A single umbrella organisation for all local and national partners from the public and private sectors that have a stake in Greater Manchester’s innovation ecosystem. It would provide the leadership, coordination, and delivery capacity needed to reduce fragmentation and create a high-performing innovation ecosystem to match the ecosystems seen in the world’s most successful and prosperous regions.
  • A translational innovation model which would seek to deliver social and economic impacts through research and development within public and private sector organisations, supporting a supercluster of businesses with growth potential across the North.
  • A focus on translating scientific excellence into productivity gains and economic growth across Greater Manchester and beyond, contributing to the national target of raising public and private R&D intensity to 2.4% by 2027.
  • The blueprint proposes a six-year, £250m per annum Greater Manchester Innovation Transformation Fund (GM ITF) that would give Greater Manchester the tools to realise its potential, contribute more to the national economy, and compete on a level footing for national and international R&D funding in the future.
  • Innovation Greater Manchester would work collaboratively with partners across the North on large scale projects to put innovation at the heart of levelling up the North and allow more businesses and people to benefit from the North’s R&D strengths.
  • By including government and national agencies as members, Innovation Greater Manchester would provide a platform for Greater Manchester and national partners to work together to create a culture of innovation, co-create strategies and investment propositions, and more fully leverage impact from local and national resources.

Embedded within existing Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership (GM LEP) governance, policy development, and delivery structures, the Innovation Zone network would enable R&D interventions to be fully aligned for the long-term with other place-based activities such as spatial planning, transport and infrastructure, skills and jobs, net zero and health through a single Place-Based Appraisal model and formal Local Investment Frameworks.

The launch of Innovation Greater Manchester is being led on behalf of the GM LEP by interim Chair, Chris Oglesby, CEO of Bruntwood and GM LEP board member; and Independent Science Advisor, Professor Richard Jones, Chair in Materials Physics and Innovation Policy at the University of Manchester.

Chris Oglesby said:

“Innovation Greater Manchester provides an exciting blueprint for Greater Manchester to work with government and other agencies to direct public sector investment where it would have the most significant economic impact, creating exciting new businesses and levelling up communities across the North.

“Innovation Zones that link labs to industry in city centres, town centres and advanced manufacturing parks would ensure that Innovation Greater Manchester has a presence and impact in every district in Greater Manchester and across the North, with the symbiotic relationships between these Zones creating enhanced economic, social and scientific impacts, including high quality jobs and increased trade and investment.“

Professor Jones said:

“Innovation Greater Manchester is a signal that Greater Manchester wants to work with government to support its levelling up agenda.

“Innovation Greater Manchester is a collective effort; whose aim is that we use the skills and potential of everyone in the city-region to make and grow new businesses in the technologies of the future.

“It is also outward-looking – it’s not just about what happens in the city limits, but aims to be a catalyst across the North, cementing Greater Manchester’s role as a growth pole for the whole nation’s economy.”

Lou Cordwell, Chair of the GM LEP, said:

“Innovation Greater Manchester is central to our Economic Vision for the city-region. The changes we want to see in our economy, like becoming more diverse and resilient, introducing better ways of working, building vibrant places, and tackling social issues, will be fuelled by innovation.

“The partnership represents an opportunity to build on our sector strengths and ensure that the benefits of R&D activity are felt across Greater Manchester and the North, supporting the UK in levelling up and achieving its ambitions for international trade.”

Cllr Elise Wilson, GMCA economy portfolio lead, said:

“Greater Manchester is a place with clear potential. Our towns and cities have the right mix of leadership, scientific excellence, and vision to demonstrate how we can level up through science and innovation.

“Innovation Greater Manchester could help the Government realise its ambitions for the R&D Place Plan and Innovation Strategy, and we’re committed to working with them to help our city-region achieve its potential.”

Juergen Maier, Vice-Chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said:

“For the North to thrive and become a world leader, we need to find ways to encourage innovation and the adoption of digital technologies.

“Led by business, Innovation Greater Manchester represents a unique blueprint for collaboration with government to unlock the potential that translational innovation provides to level up in Greater Manchester and the North.”

Innovation Greater Manchester is an ambitious plan to create a new place-based partnership, led by businesses and entrepreneurs, to build on Greater Manchester’s existing R&D assets and public sector delivery capacity to drive innovation-led growth in towns, city centres, and out-of-town science and technology parks in every district in Greater Manchester and across the North.

Innovation Greater Manchester would capitalise on the national and international growth opportunities provided by Greater Manchester’s distinctive and inter-related asset base in its core sector strengths of advanced materials and manufacturing, health innovation, digital and creative, and low carbon to support aligned R&D activity.

A proposal for an Advanced Manufacturing Materials Park – part of the Gateway North development in North Greater Manchester – is just one example of how Greater Manchester might build on its frontier sector strengths. Other live opportunities for Innovation Greater Manchester include the Salford Crescent and ID Manchester redevelopment plans. (See Case Studies below)

Examples of translational Innovation Zone clusters which are primed for development in Greater Manchester

Gateway North Advanced Manufacturing Materials Park

Gateway North is a development site similar in size to Trafford Park within the North East Growth Corridor of Greater Manchester, which sits along the M62 through Rochdale, Oldham and Bury.

It has the potential to deliver more than 2,000 new homes, 1.2m sqm of new manufacturing and logistics space, and could support the creation of 22,000 new jobs, delivering £1.4bn of GVA per annum to the Greater Manchester economy.

Incorporating areas of brownfield and greenfield land between the M60, M62 and M66, the draft development framework for the Gateway North includes the provision of a potential zone for an Advanced Manufacturing Park on a site near Heywood Distribution Park. This allocation responds to Greater Manchester Local Industrial Strategy which allocated the area as having potential to specialise in advanced materials, given the area’s specialisms in technical textiles, rubber, plastics, inks and coatings.

In August 2020, the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), in partnership with the University of Huddersfield, University of Salford, Rochdale Development Agency and PTG Holroyd Precision, secured £50,000 early-stage funding for the Advanced Machinery and Productivity (AMP) Institute in Rochdale.

The funding has been awarded through the UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Strength in Places Fund (SIPF) and has the support by Rochdale Council’s Town Fund programme.

Driving innovation for the UK’s advanced machinery manufacturers, the AMP Institute will create the new machines and engineers needed to manufacture tomorrow’s technologies. Given its proposed location within the growth corridor, it is likely to act as a catalyst for the delivery of the Advanced Manufacturing Park.

The AMP Institute will be centred around existing capabilities and research excellence across the North of England and reaching across the wider UK, to establish and develop economic growth in the design, development and manufacture of advanced machinery and robotic systems.

Innovation District Manchester

A trailblazing new neighbourhood in the city of Manchester, ID Manchester will be a true innovation district, where everyone who works, lives and visits will be able to participate and engage with the opportunity and potential of a place focussed on answering some of the greatest challenges we face as a society in the 21st century.

The 18-acre (7.3-hectare) ID Manchester site is being made possible because The University of Manchester is relocating its teaching and academic research activity to its neighbouring main campus, where it has invested more than £1bn in new world-class buildings and facilities.

ID Manchester represents a vision for a 26-acre site with innovation, collaboration and enterprise at its heart, with the potential to create over 6,000 new jobs.

Salford Crescent

The Salford Innovation Triangle, comprising MediaCityUK, Salford Royal Hospital and the University of Salford, provides opportunities to further build on frontier sector strengths on digital and health innovation.

Innovation is a key component of the Salford Crescent Masterplan, the framework for redeveloping a strategic site within Greater Manchester incorporating land owned by the University of Salford and Salford City Council.

The £2.5bn, 240-acre scheme is one of the UK’s most ambitious and innovative programmes of regeneration in the country and will be delivered over the next 10 years in partnership with The English Cities Fund, Salford City Council and University of Salford.

Crescent aims to deliver a long-lasting positive legacy for Salford and Greater Manchester, through the creation of a new city district and innovation campus, which will deliver around 3,000 homes, 7,000 new jobs, over 1m sq ft of commercial and innovation space that will include areas for health, automation and robotics and over 1m sq ft of education space for the university, along with swathes of public realm and a sustainable transport hub to create a ‘green’ heart for the city centre.

Significant investment is already being made in the Crescent innovation campus and already on site is the 22,580 sq ft North of England Robotics Innovation Centre, the 26,870 sq ft Energy House 2.0 research facility and the 164,690 sq ft new School of Science, Engineering and Environment.

Crescent will provide companies of all sizes and stages of development with access to dedicated research facilities, specialist equipment, spaces for collaborative R&D activity, tailored business support and global academic excellence across tech, digital, health innovation and low carbon.

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