The Smart Specialisation Hub: an update

Following the outcome of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU on 23rd June, the delivery partners would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the Smart Specialisation Hub project and the prominent role it will play in place-based innovation investment.

Whilst the impact Thursday’s vote will have on the use of European Structural and Investment funds is currently unclear, the Hub’s core mission will remain the same: to help local areas to identify their research and innovation priorities through a robust, evidence-based process, encourage them to focus on cross-cutting technologies to build diversity and resilience into their economies, and help them attract investment from public and private sources.

The work of the Hub has always been driven by a sense of place. In the context of increasingly devolved powers and responsibilities, a clear articulation of strengths and priorities at local level is more important than ever. Assembling the data, analysis and intelligence required for places to convincingly make their case is fundamental to the work of the Hub.

Greater devolution also requires closer collaboration if innovation ambitions are to be achieved. The Hub’s mission has always been to foster partnerships at local level, and to help bring the research base, innovation-active businesses and actors across the ecosystem together behind a common purpose. We will continue in this vein, facilitating collaborative working within and across local areas, and encourage clarity of purpose amongst partners.

It is important to note that, whilst leadership and clear thought will be required to assess all the implications of Thursday’s result, innovation co-operation with Europe and specifically the EU will certainly continue. The Hub has worked closely with colleagues at European level on matters of collaboration, funding and access; this will not change in the short term.

Fundamentally, the Hub remains an asset for localities and regions. We will continue to bring our resource to bear on supporting them as they review their innovation priorities, not least in light of Thursday’s result.

Our work to support Government, informing strategy and local economic development will go on. And its commitment to the devolution agenda, and enriching the evidence base that underpins it, is evident in the anticipated launch of the second wave of Science and Innovation Audits: the Hub is committed to play a part in this process.

If you have any further questions as to how the outcome of the EU referendum will affect the work of the Smart Specialisation Hub, please contact us at

About the author

Andrew Basu-McGowan is the Policy Manager for the Smart Specialisation Hub, a role he assumed in April 2016. Andrew’s chief focus is on forging the collaborations and policy links that drive connected localities and regions, and promoting the role of universities in building diverse and resilient economies.

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