Working in place: the Hub in 2018

As 2018 progresses with alarming speed, it seems opportune to talk about the Hub’s goals for this year.

The importance of place

Place has taken on a renewed significance, and is now firmly ensconced as a foundation of national policy with the publication of the Industrial Strategy White Paper.  Already there are new initiatives, new centres and new projects emerging to respond.

The Hub welcomes them, but there is a need to ensure that this process adds clarity and not confusion.  We look to support these where we can and add to the conversations surrounding these new projects to provide our expertise and knowledge to the mix.

When the Hub was established, we were clear that we wanted to partner rather than compete with other groups and that our role, sitting as we do between Government and local areas, is to collate, translate, interpret and project.

To this end, we have started the new year with conversations with Nesta, ESRC and the Royal Society about how we can work together on tackling understanding the UK’s local economies.  This is in addition to our continued conversations with Innovate UK and BEIS as we look to triangulate data and coordinate efforts to shed light on a complex and varied subject.

Continuing our place-based analytical work

It is also clear that things are moving quickly, and we are looking to move faster to support this agenda.  Last year, the Hub launched Mapping England’s Innovation Activity and issued an updated version of this with our second Annual Report published in November.

This comprehensive  analysis work continues apace, with the release of an equivalent mapping for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland at the end of January, providing an overview of innovation activity across the whole of the UK.

In February, we plan to release a companion analysis looking at the innovation ecosystem in general, and a mapping of innovation assets is scheduled for March. More details on these to follow in due course.

Further to this work, we have been supporting work on mapping the UK’s materials sector with Innovate UK, investigated patent and international data at a LEP level, and mapped UK productivity working with the Science & Technology Facilities Council.  Look out for publication of our findings over the next weeks.

Working with local areas

The Industrial Strategy White Paper calls for Local Industrial Strategies; the Hub, with its experience analysing local performance and connections (including its ongoing work with the SIAs), is well-placed to support this work from the outset.

We are already engaging directly with New Anglia LEP on this issue, and we are keen to broaden our sphere of operation – particularly to engage more strongly in the North.

We want to continue to strengthen the Hub’s offer and deepen our involvement with local actors and with national bodies bringing our experience, expertise and knowledge to bear on policy discussion, strategy development and projects wherever we can add value. We will provide updates on this work as it comes.

Get in touch

The Hub team welcomes comments, suggestions, and/or feedback on our ongoing work and analysis. If you would like more information on any of the projects mentioned above, or you have a place-based project and would like our input or engagement, please do contact us.

About the author

Ross is Interim Head of Place for Innovate UK, and a Stakeholder Engagement Manager for the Smart Specialisation Hub.

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