Report calls for greater tech innovation funding outside South East

A new report has identified Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester as key cities to house investment districts supporting new technology and innovation. 

Research in the report finds that the UK government’s current policy towards innovation has mostly been ‘place-blind’, leading the body to call for a £14.5bn growth package to support the three major cities with innovation centres over the next ten years. 

Centre for Cities, an urban policy research unit, published their report into the geography of the ‘new economy’, their term for the ‘knowledge-intensive sectors’ encompassing software, telecommunications, robotics and digital gaming. 

Birmingham City Council leader, Cllr Ian Ward, welcomed the findings of the report and invited the government to work with the council on unlocking Birmingham’s potential. He said: ‘Our city is already home to almost 3,000 new economy firms in sectors such as esports and gaming, FinTech (financial technology) and advanced manufacturing but we could and should be playing an even bigger part in the new economy. 

‘With the right funding and support, that number could be significantly higher, improving Birmingham’s productivity, driving economic growth, and creating more high-skilled jobs.’

white concrete building under white clouds during daytime

Produced in partnership with HSBC UK, the report states that the identified urban areas have fewer businesses in the ‘new economy’ then they should when compared to European counterparts.

Cllr Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: ‘This report recognises the enormous potential for innovation-led growth in the UK’s regional cities, in Greater Manchester and especially Manchester city centre as existing clusters of tech and innovation businesses expand and take advantage of a central location.
‘Our city-region is already home to pioneering research and facilities, as well as a large pool of talent – match these with the right powers and investment and we can contribute significantly to levelling up and sustainable economic growth. Its recommendations echo our call for an Innovation Accelerator to be a catalyst for developing a world-class innovation ecosystem in Manchester and Greater Manchester, in keeping with our vision of economic growth which benefits everyone.’

The research centre did praise the government’s Levelling Up white paper for committing 40% more investment into research and development outside of the Greater South East, and selecting the same three cities as locations for ‘Innovation Accelerators’. However, it criticised the lack of a clear plan showing how the latter idea would be implemented and where money would be spent. 

It also called for the government to increase research and development funding targets, reverse cuts to public skills spending, expand research and development tax credits, and extend the UK Research and Innovation’s Strength in Places Fund to help areas build on their innovation strengths.

The research unit’s report comes shortly after a ‘State of European Tech’ report found that UK investment into the tech ventures and start-ups had faced a steep drop in funding.

Centre for Cities’ full report can be found on their website here.

Photo by Brian Lewicki


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