Innovation and commercialisation at heart of new economic plan for South East Midlands

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  • South East Midlands Local Industrial Strategy reaffirms area’s ambitions to be a world-leader in transport and freight research and development
  • Business Minister Lord Henley meets business leaders from South East Midlands at Cranfield University and Red Bull Racing in Milton Keynes as strategy is unveiled

A new economic blueprint for the South East Midlands has been unveiled today (Friday 19 July), with a bold strategy to build on its existing strengths in transport innovations and new plans to make the area a centre of investing and implementing new technology.

The South East Midlands Local Industrial Strategy, which covers Milton Keynes, Northampton, Bedford, Luton and Aylesbury, sets out ambitious plans to make the area the ‘Connected Core’ of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, linking innovators and markets across the area as well as into London.

A key focus of today’s strategy is harnessing the huge local potential to develop innovative technology locally and transform the best ideas into high-growth businesses, creating new jobs and opportunities in the area.

This will build on the existing research and development strengths of the area, including ground-breaking work on automotive design, connected and autonomous vehicles, and the future of freight transport.

Developed in collaboration with leaders, including the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP), local authorities, businesses, and government, the Local Industrial Strategy sets out how the area will deliver the national Industrial Strategy’s aim to raise productivity levels and to create high-quality, well paid jobs.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said:

The South East Midlands economy is rapidly growing and is already worth £50 billion to the UK’s economy.

We want to harness the full economic potential of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and the strategy released today – one of four across the area – will do just that, with a clear vision for how to boost the earning power and opportunities for people and businesses in the area.

The South East Midlands is perfectly placed to connect people and places and is driving the innovations that will meet the needs of the future of mobility in the UK and internationally.

Peter Horrocks CBE, Chair of SEMLEP, said:

Everyone should feel proud of the achievements of the businesses in the South East Midlands and the people who work in them. This area is home to some brilliant people with brilliant ideas that, together, have created the innovation that is already shaping how we will live and work in the future.

Today, we launch a plan to enhance this even further and create more good quality jobs and enhance our local environment to support growth.

The strategy launch coincides with the launch of three other Local Industrial Strategies across the Oxford-Cambridge Arc area.

To coincide with this, Business Minister Lord Henley met representatives from across the Oxford-Cambridge Arc today to discuss how the four strategies launched today will help to deliver the government’s national Industrial Strategy ambitions.

He will also be visiting Red Bull Racing for a tour of the company’s headquarters in Tilbrook, Milton Keynes, to find out how it is driving up innovation and boosting productivity in the area.

The area’s historic links with Formula 1 racing mean there are now over 4,000 high tech and innovation companies within an hour’s radius of Silverstone, and the area is home to major transport innovators, including the Silverstone Technology Cluster and Millbrook Proving Ground’s vehicle and battery testing facilities in Bedford.

In addition, the South East Midlands area is at the forefront of the Future of Flight programme, part of the Aerospace Sector Deal, agreed with the government last winter, which aims to make the UK a leader of hybrid-electric and electric propulsion, and to exploit related new markets such as drones and Urban Air Mobility vehicles.

Commitments in the South East Midlands Local Industrial Strategy include:

  • To become the ‘Connected Core’ of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc: the place with the space, and connectedness between key innovators and markets, to enable ideas and inventions to be tested, enhanced, commercialised and spun out into high growth ventures
  • To lead the way on the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge, through continued investment in the area’s aerospace and advanced engineering excellence, and by pioneering the use of innovative freight technologies and demand-responsive transport
  • To put employers at the heart of innovative skills provision and to become the Oxford-Cambridge Arc’s core provider of digital skills, attracting and training the next generation to lead the global digital revolution
  • To improve productivity and sustainability in tandem, fuelled by renewable energy, smart and connected transport solutions, and greener vehicles, buildings and design principles
  • To provide an exemplary business environment, with high-quality commercial premises and support for incubator, scale-up, innovation, trade and investment activity within the Arc.

Dr Kerry Mashford OBE, Board Director and Energy Champion, SEMLEP

The SEMLEP area’s Local Industrial Strategy puts clean growth front and centre. With the pace of economic growth we’re forecast to achieve, it’s right that we prioritise this. This area will shape the concepts behind ‘future settlements’ and lead growth by design.

The SEMLEP LIS promotes taking best practice from the beacon projects we have in areas such as building and settlement design, modern methods of construction, emissions testing, renewable energy systems, demand-led transport and electric vehicle infrastructure.

This will place the South East Midlands at the heart of supporting the ambitions behind the government’s Road to Zero.

Lord Henley, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said:

Local Industrial Strategies are about celebrating the unique strengths of places across the country, so it was great to meet business leaders from across the South East Midlands area today to understand how they are going to put this new, government-backed economic plan into action.

Our modern Industrial Strategy aims to raise productivity levels and to create high-quality, well paid jobs, and this Local Industrial Strategy outlines how we will do that for people in the South East Midlands.

Professor Sir Peter Gresgon, Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University, said:

I’m delighted that Cranfield is hosting the launch of these Local Industrial Strategies from across the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.

There is strong support for the work of the Local Enterprise Partnerships, from business, from local government and from all the Arc Universities.

Together, we have a duty to deliver on these ambitious proposals and create an environment where technological innovation flourishes and businesses thrive.

Housing Minister Kit Malthouse said:

People deserve to live in thriving, prosperous communities where there are great job opportunities, high quality affordable homes and local leaders with strategies to boost economic growth in bold and innovative ways.

The four Local Industrial Strategies mark a momentous time for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and will maximise the undoubted potential of the region. That’s demonstrated by the sheer range of plans covered by the strategies – whether it be developing future generations via a Skills Apprenticeship Hub, improving social mobility, or entertaining film lovers with productions from the world-famous Pinewood Studios.

It’s time to roll up our sleeves and work with communities and local leaders to realise their ambitions and also build more, better, faster, providing one million new homes across the Oxford-Cambridge Arc by 2050.

The Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Industrial Strategies are also published today, demonstrating the economic strength of the Oxfordshire-Cambridge Arc area collectively.

Through these strategies, local partners will work together to harness the collective strength of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc’s research base to drive greater collaboration on science and research, bring employers and providers together to understand and meet skills needs and develop improved support for business across the Arc as a whole.

The Government’s modern Industrial Strategy is the flagship economic policy which backs businesses to create high-quality, well paid jobs throughout the United Kingdom, and invests in skills, innovation and infrastructure.

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