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Business leaders welcome Innovation Accelerator plans for Greater Manchester

Business leaders have hailed Government plans to establish an Innovation Accelerator centred on Greater Manchester, which was announced as part of the Levelling Up White Paper.

The White Paper announced plans for three new Innovation Accelerators in Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and Glasgow city-region. Businesses and research in these areas will be supported with £100m of new Government funding, adopting an approach that has helped create thriving innovation ecosystems in places like Greater Boston and Silicon Valley.

These accelerators have been modelled on Innovation Greater Manchester, a blueprint developed by public and private sector leaders over the past 18 months to drive economic recovery.

Innovation Greater Manchester is the city-region’s offer to work with Government to boost research and development (R&D) investment across the whole of the city-region and level up the North. It calls for local-national partnerships, led by industry, to ensure investment lands in the right places. This would help turn pioneering work done in universities and research institutions into business growth that creates high-quality jobs and attracts investment. 

Lou Cordwell, Chair of Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership (GM LEP), said: “The announcement of a new Innovation Accelerator for Greater Manchester is welcome news. We're confident it can act as a catalyst and help us realise the bigger opportunity of rebalancing public R&D funding, and form part of a wider drive to account for levelling up in investment decisions.

“We’ve long made the point that sustainable innovation ecosystems, not just individual projects, will be key to levelling up. We look forward to working with Government to make sure the Innovation Accelerator improves prosperity, creates jobs, and crowds in wider investment.”

The White Paper sets out 12 “Missions to Level Up the UK”, one of which is a commitment to increase public investment in research and development (R&D) outside the Greater South East by 40 per cent.

To contribute to this, the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy has committed to investing at least 55 per cent of their R&D funding outside London and the South East by 2024-25. Other departments have made similar pledges, including the Department for Health and Social Care, which will be increasing its medical research investment outside London, Oxford and Cambridge.

Chris Oglesby, CEO of Bruntwood and Chair of Innovation Greater Manchester, said: “Through Innovation Greater Manchester we have promoted the idea of place-based innovation deals that will make a transformational impact on our towns and cities – helping direct investment and align with complementary skills and infrastructure strategies. It is great to see that Government supports our approach and will invest in Innovation Accelerators.

“We now need to work quickly to use this momentum opportunity to create to turn our R&D strengths into more jobs and opportunities across our city-regions, attracting long-term investment from the private sector and setting the course for new high productivity industries across the North and Midlands.”

Cllr Elise Wilson, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) portfolio lead for Economy, said: “It’s encouraging to see the Government back our thinking. Innovation Accelerators are a clear vote of confidence in our Innovation Greater Manchester blueprint.

“Every business, in every sector, and in every part of Greater Manchester, has the opportunity to benefit from our innovation ecosystem. From working with local universities to develop new products and services, through to adopting technologies with support from the Business Growth Hub, the benefits of innovation can be felt by everyone.”

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