Government and industry unite to launch ‘Innovation South’ initiative to champion UK’s digital economy

Posted on: 31/01/2018

Register now for Innovation South’s launch day event on 27th March 2018.

Whichever way you lean politically, there is little doubt that the ‘Northern Powerhouse’, brainchild of former Chancellor George Osborne, was a successful initiative in raising the profile of the North’s industrial towns and cities. The concept was simple; for government and industry to work together to support business growth and boost productivity, and to improve connections between urban areas in the North through major transport infrastructure projects.

A few years on, eight counties outside the M25 have united to support and champion the skills, strengths and assets that the South of England holds. Introducing Innovation South. A Science and Innovation Audit (SIA), released by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has identified the key strengths the region has to offer. A suite of digital enabling technologies Р5G, Big Data Analytics, Cyber Security, Quantum, and Photonics - have been hailed as outstanding strengths, and there is a bedrock of sizeable opportunities for inward investment and local economic growth, especially in four of the region’s key sectors: Digital, Bioscience, Marine & Maritime and Advanced Engineering.

The aim of Innovation South is to act as a single, coherent voice representing the views of business, education and local authorities to Government, but also and importantly, to potential investors at home and abroad. The prizes are good standards of living and economic prosperity, not only for the people who live and work in the Innovation South area, but for the whole of the UK as collaborations and connections outside the region make Innovation South and its advances a national asset.

Innovation South is demonstrating the whole really can be greater than the sum of its parts, and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), businesses, universities and local authorities are realising the benefits of this collaboration. By better articulating the opportunities for investment in the south as a whole, more funds can be channelled to where it will make a difference, as demanded by local communities. Innovation is a network phenomenon and it’s only by working together that problems can be overcome.

One of the people at the centre of this initiative is Dr Mike Short, the Chair of Innovation South, whose CV includes Vice President of Telefonica, the parent company of the O2 mobile phone network, and recently took up the position of Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for International Trade. He said: “Innovation South is spearheading the UK’s digital revolution. From better health care to safer transport and from adventurous immersive technologies to the design of super fast racing yachts, Innovation South is a substantial region at the forefront of advances in digital innovations that are constantly improving our daily lives.

“It is Digital Enabling Technologies that are the key drivers in advances in entertainment, communications, health, marine operations and transport. That is undisputed. More uncertain is which countries will capitalise on these opportunities. Innovation South is poised to deploy its outstanding expertise in partnerships with other regions to help ensure the nation which takes the lead in those advances is the UK.”

How can businesses get involved? On the 27th March 2018, Innovate UK, the Government’s innovation agency, is hosting a showcase event at the new International Conference and Exhibition Centre in Farnborough to inspire and support innovators and entrepreneurs in Southern England. The morning session will see the official launch of Innovation South, with keynote speakers to be announced shortly. In the afternoon, delegates will hear first-hand from businesses which have innovated successfully, followed by workshops including sessions on grant writing, accessing all new innovation loans and the 4th Industrial Revolution – how digital technologies and systems can transform manufacturing.

The day is free of charge and offers a great opportunity to meet other businesses, learn from experts and be part of the Innovation South ambition.


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