Innovation outlook: upcoming projects

August is traditionally a quiet month in innovation and associated policy activity. Universities take a partial pause, Parliament is in recess and we all draw a collective breath before plunging into the fast-flowing stream of September.

Give us your feedback

At the Hub, we’re using this brief quiet spell to seek feedback on our recent analytical work, refine and update our stock of data, build relationships and plan our next tranche of activity. We’re developing our second Annual Report, built around the work we’ve undertaken over the past year; supporting individual bids into the remaining ESIF pot; and helping geographical and sectoral agglomerations – at varying scale – develop their strategies and refresh their Strategic Economic Plans.

But this activity takes place in a wider context. We expect Government to publish its Industrial Strategy white paper in the autumn, perhaps with a more sharply defined set of core ambitions and activities. Place, and places, may well be balanced against sectoral considerations and priorities, and reconciling these imperatives will be vital. Ensuring the flow of cutting-edge research (and its ensuing commercialisation) should also take into account the need for economic uplift in the country’s more disadvantaged locations. The finely judged application of the right policy levers is key.

Upcoming innovation projects

Another wave of Science and Innovation Audits is expected to be announced shortly, and of course the Hub has assisted several consortia and stands ready to support more. We are beginning to see lasting collaborative impact through these Audits, with some groups devising productive programmes of collaboration going forward. The collective identity and strategic drive an SIA can deliver, with the full commitment of its participants, is proving valuable.

Universities must adjust to the Higher Education and Research Act (described by the Viscount Younger of Leckie as ‘the most important piece of legislation for the sector in 25 years’) and reflect on the impact of the Teaching Excellence Framework. And the implementation and embedding of UKRI and OfS pose challenges, and offer some opportunities, across the piece.

Providing funding information

What’s more, with the post-Brexit funding landscape set to change markedly, LEPs, local and combined authorities and universities will all need to exhibit agility, flexibility and intelligence to stay ahead of the game.

That’s why we are embarking on a refreshed engagement programme over the coming months. Sitting between Government and local actors, we want to triangulate the two. But we can’t do this alone. We’ll be partnering with other organisations to disseminate information, drive energetic debate and ensure local voices are heard nationally.

Get in touch

We’ll be publicising events, activities, forthcoming publications and webinars in due course. If you do want to add your support, or if you have any questions about any of the Hub’s work or current projects, please feel free to contact us.

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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