In the past few months the Works Centre for Local Economic Growth (WWG) has worked with a group of local and combined authorities, LEPs and central government to understand the challenges all parties face in designing a Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) that is evidence-based and builds upon the existing Strategic Economic Plans that areas have in place. From this, they have pulled together a set of ideas about how both local and central government might address some of those challenges. These 10 ideas are presented in the ‘Developing effective local industrial strategies’ guide, which was launched in London on 25 June, and I was there to hear what the experts had to say about it. Here are some of the key messages I picked up.
Last week I attended the Hepi Annual Conference in London. Sam Gyimah MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, opened the event with a keynote speech that focused on value for money, innovation and transparency.
The minister began by calling on universities to “focus relentlessly on value for money”. By value for money, the assumption was that value for money should be measured, in part, by graduate earnings, which just happened to be the subject of a new report published the same day by the Institute for Fiscal Studies/Department for Education looking at relative labour market returns to undergraduate degrees, and which draws heavily upon Longitudinal Educational Outcomes (LEO) data.
Yesterday, I was in Leeds to hear Research England (RE) and Innovate UK (IUK) spell out the approach of their parent body – UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) – to place and to find out more about the new Strength in Places Fund (SPIF). For those unfamiliar with the alphabet soup of acronyms and institutional arrangements in the UK higher education sector, RE and IUK are ‘constituent members’ of the UKRI family of councils.
On Thursday, I had the pleasure of being in Hull to attend two events organised by The Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) that were designed to illustrate the work of the LEP and its partners over the past year, and to also showcase a blueprint for a new local industrial strategy that the LEP is putting out to public consultation. Both meetings were part of the annual ‘Business Week’ programme.
So, ten months after the government trailed its set of initial ideas for a ‘new’ approach to industrial policy in the UK, the long-awaited Industrial Strategy White Paper has been published today. In seeking to navigate a course through the choppy waters of an uncertain Brexit, diminishing productivity and widening regional and local economic disparities, the White Paper is, to some extent, seeking to lay out a long-term framework for building on some of the opportunities and addressing some of the structural economic challenges facing the UK.