by Steven Wilson, Head of Innovation at GCGP LEP
The Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough (GCGP) LEP has worked since outset in close partnership with New Anglia and Hertfordshire LEPs and the Essex part of South East LEP to develop and conduct a Science and Innovation Audit (SIA) across the East of England.
The SIA aims to better promote the world-beating strengths of the region’s businesses and academic institutions.
We have already witnessed the audit process catalyse positive collaborative activity within, and between, our key sectors of Life Sciences, Agri-Tech, Advanced Materials & Manufacturing and ICT.
Innovate East: involving industry
The Smart Specialisation Hub kindly assisted the process by organising a series of parallel sector (“theme”) workshops as a key part of the recent “Innovate East” event.
This was planned to accelerated the rate of progress and to stimulate increased awareness and interest, and was very successful, with 275 attendees, the majority from industry.
Each theme is led by a respected individual from industry, with participation from all of the region’s Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) and many SMEs. Stakeholder engagement is largely driven by the theme leaders and in their geography by each LEP.
The themes prioritised their internal planned focus (sub-themes) when developing the initial Expression of Interest, but have pragmatically varied these since in the light of their externally facilitated discussions. Scope also has to be manageable across the very tight time-frame.
A whole day event took place on 6th March at Alconbury Enterprise Campus, and a separate dedicated event on developing the cross-cutting themes will be held at BAS later in March.
An audit with ambition
The audit’s ambition is to supply a clear evidence base encompassing the four themes that enables the region to validate the case for and attract future central and local government investment and foreign direct investment.
It is a challenging task, but is being undertaken with a high degree of collaboration and a strong sense of partnership for the greater good. Liaison with other UK audits with common interests has been key.
The findings outlined in the audit report are due to be submitted to Government in late May, and published later in the Summer, and will be implemented so that the impact will be ongoing and strongly beneficial to our region.
It will also demonstrate our willingness to collaborate proactively with other regions and the devolved nations for appropriate programmes.
An outward-looking vision
The vision is that the SIA will enable our existing sectors of global strength to continue to flourish, and to establish and support cross-cutting new areas of science and innovation that our region – the innovation capital of the country – is uniquely placed to develop and grow, adding to the region’s prosperity.