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Shaping the way forward for Northern science and innovation

21 Jan 2016

Government science and business advisers meet Northern leaders, including our Vice President Research and Innovation Professor Luke Georghiou

Sir Mark Walport, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, and Gareth Davies, Director General for Business and Science at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), have met with Northern academic, business and local enterprise leaders to offer advice on accessing research funding to help regions drive economic growth.

In a series of roundtables and workshops held in Leeds, they discussed with the Northern leaders, including our Vice President Research and Innovation Professor Luke Georghiou, how to map and understand Northern regional research and innovation strengths, and areas of excellence.

Last autumn, Business Secretary Sajid Javid MP announced that the government was inviting organisations to form into consortia and express an interest in completing a Science and Innovation Audit (SIA). These consortia could include universities, research and innovation organizations, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) or their equivalents in the devolved administrations, and city and business leaders. 

The SIAs provide a way to help build evidence of potential global competitive advantage, and to identify routes to fully realise that potential. Government has given a deadline of end of January for expressions of interest.

The event was the third in a series of Northern Innovation Forums focussing on the potential Northern Innovation groupings. This series is organised by the N8 Research Partnership (N8), the collaboration body of the universities of Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York.

Sir Mark said: “The strength of the Science and Innovation Audits lies in pinpointing the areas where research excellence overlaps with innovation capabilities. By prioritising these areas, the UK can support regional innovation to bring much wider benefits.     

“We hope the Science and Innovation Audits will generate the ambitious thinking and effective leadership needed to achieve this.”

Professor Georghiou said: “Evidence-based targeting of science and innovation investments can support regional economic development. UK science and innovation funding will continue to be allocated on a national basis to very strong proposals only. In that light, Science and Innovation Audits offer a real opportunity to strengthen the evidence base and our detailed understanding. This will lead to a greater ability to demonstrate Northern research and innovation excellence in themes and localities that can deliver economic impact.

“This day provided a great opportunity to refine and improve potential Northern SIA bids. It has enabled consortia to refine their ideas, cross-reference their bids with others, and investigate collaboration opportunities. We are delighted that Sir Mark and Gareth were able to join with the Northern consortia for this event.”