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RDAs: Back to the Future?

Guest blog by Kevin Richardson, Local Academy

It is almost a decade since the then coalition government announced it would abolish 9 Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) in England and replace them with what turned out to be 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). But the political and economic debates, which underpinned that decision, are as relevant today as they were ten years ago. The UK (especially England) remains the most centralised state in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. And not unrelated, because of ever-widening regional disparities of wealth and deprivation, the UK is rooted at the foot of the league table. 

‘Starting and scaling up business…in a period of recovery’

Monika Antal, YU Executive Manager

Last week, a request landed on our ‘virtual desk’, originating from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and linked to a series of economic recovery roundtables that are expected to inform the emergency budget announcement scheduled for the second week in July.

Given the challenging turnaround time, YU, together with our colleagues from the N8 Research Partnership, agreed to pool our respective ideas and produce a joint response. The topics where BEIS were seeking inputs, included: innovation, investment, net zero (carbon), levelling-up and (business) start-ups and scaleups. I was asked to contribute to the the start-up and scaleup theme, and was set the following exam questions:

Innovation Deals

Dr Peter O’Brien, Executive Director

Tom Forth and Richard Jones’ recent report, ‘The Missing £4 Billion’, published by the innovation specialists, Nesta, presents in-depth analysis and a series of thought-provoking, yet practical, proposals on how to rebalance the current uneven geography of research and development (R&D) spending within the UK. The report is timely and has gained much attention, not least for the case the authors make for government to devolve 25 per cent of the planned uplift in R&D funding to nations, cities and regions. A stark statistic contained in the report is that large parts of the UK, including Yorkshire, are missing out on £4 billion a year in public R&D funding.  Add to that private investment, and the same regions are unable to access a further £8 billion per annum. Not insignificant sums when you consider the total investment that is needed to ‘level up’ the nations and regions.

Latest tweets

It was great to speak with @nhenews recently about the importance of our #yhealth4growth work with @YHAHSN and @YorkshireUnis - #healthisthenewwealth @richarddstubbs @obrienpeter72

We've launched a 10-year plan to transform the North of England into the UK hub for green innovation and enterprise alongside a consortium of partners, contributing to the region’s overall ambition to become the nation’s first carbon negative region:

📢 We are excited to announce the launch of the Inclusive Growth Network - an ambitious new initiative supporting places leading the drive for inclusive local economies across the UK. Find out more about the network here 👉

Well here’s a plan. From my excellent colleague ⁦@RichardALJones⁩ (who with ⁦@thomasforth⁩ are almost an R&D cluster in themselves).