Recently, Nesta launched a report exploring how cities and regions collaborate internationally on innovation. If done effectively, international collaborations offer the opportunity to hit multiple policy priorities: levelling up regions, boosting investment in R&D towards 2.4 percent of GDP, and strengthening overseas relationships post-Brexit.
Last week, I was in Montréal speaking at an international conference on the subject of regional innovation. The event coincided with half a million people – many of them aged under 16, including the activist, Greta Thunberg – taking to the streets of the city to call for action to address the climate emergency.
Whilst in Canada, I heard of some ground-breaking studies and policies on local and regional research and innovation processes. Coupled with how science and expertise is shaping public opinion on a theme as substantive as climate change, my visit to Québec re-emphasised to me the importance we should attach to universities building and sustaining effective relationships with local communities and the wider public, as well as business and governments.
Yesterday I attended the annual conference of the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), in Leeds, entitled, ‘Transforming Lives Through Innovation’. The previous day I was at the White Rose Consortium’s Industrial Strategy ‘Working in Partnership’ final conference, which showcased the contribution of the social sciences to meeting industrial strategy opportunities and challenges. The timing of the two conferences came a matter of hours after the first of four speeches by the Universities Minister, Chris Skidmore, setting out how the Government intends to achieve its ‘2.4% R&D/innovation investment’ target by 2027.
Last week saw the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee hold its final evidence session, as part of the Committee’s inquiry into the ‘balance and effectiveness of R&D expenditure’. In evidence to the Committee, Yorkshire Universities highlighted ten issues that might help government and its agencies create and sustain a more spatially-balanced approach to R&D and innovation activity and investment.
Guest blog by Professor Tim Thornton, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Huddersfield
One of the key strengths of the Leeds City Region is its unique concentration of world-class universities, and the diverse contributions that each makes towards the higher-level skills and innovation agendas. As part of the wider Yorkshire region, Leeds City Region can rightly-claim to be a ‘skills magnet’, which is able to attract new forms of inward investment and act as a seedbed for regeneration and growth.
Yorkshire Universities (YU) are very much on the front foot, working collaboratively with important local stakeholders, well in advance of the expected consultation on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. The new strategic approach of YU is certainly helping members and their partners to prepare for important decisions ahead. Delivered in association with the Local Academy, those attending a recent workshop challenged each other to identify the five biggest challenges ahead;