From the people that brought you the Northern Powerhouse – could ‘Innovation South’ be the UK’s tech engine?

Written by Sam Trendall on 22 September 2017 in News
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Government-commissioned report flags up the potential of the eight counties below London

 

The eight counties boast a cumulative annual economic output of £225.3bn - or 13.7% of the UK total - according to an audit  Credit: PA

A government-issued report has talked up the collection of counties beneath London as a potential world-leading tech and science hub – dubbing the region ‘Innovation South’.

Last year the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy commissioned a science and innovation audit to examine how eight counties to the south, east, and west of London – Kent, East and West Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Dorset, and Berkshire – could collectively represent a global hub of digital and scientific innovation.

The Innovation South Consortium, which includes representatives of 100 private and public organisations across the region, has now published a report that puts forward the idea that the area has a singularly fertile environment in which to cultivate science and technology.

“The audit tests the hypothesis that, while others may share strengths in individual technologies, Innovation South stands out for the number and breadth of digital-enabling technologies, and their widespread application,” says the report. 


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It picks out four industries in the STEM sector in which the region has a wealth of successful businesses: connected digital; marine and maritime; bioscience; and advanced engineering. The report goes on to look at “the region’s capacity to commercially exploit its excellence” across five technological areas: digital communications; cybersecurity; big data analytics; photonics; and quantum.

The report says: “The UK has a world-leading digital economy and a proud history of digital innovation. Innovation South is key to that – a globalised region, with high-value, digitally enabled innovation; a powerhouse of research strengths; a strong commercialisation culture; and dynamic businesses and industries to match. In the story of the UK’s digital success, a significant chapter belongs to Innovation South.”

According to the audit, the eight counties have a population of 8.6 million and a yearly economic output of £225.3bn, equating to 13.7% of the total for the whole of the UK. 

The region (pictured above) also benefits, the report says, from a highly qualified workforce, excellent national and international transport links, many areas of natural beauty, a wealth of universities, and an impressive array of global tech brands with offices locally.

 

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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