Chris Oglesby, CEO of property giant Bruntwood shares his thoughts on the Levelling Up White Paper released by the government recently.
Also chair of Innovation Greater Manchester, he said: “One of the most eye-catching positives in today’s Levelling Up White Paper is the commitment to increase R&D spending outside of London and the South East. The current imbalance here mirrors the regional inequalities that are at the heart of Levelling Up.
“Investing in the innovative capacity of our places through increased R&D spending outside of London and the South East is key to long-term prosperity. For us, this is the real major opportunity presented by the new Levelling Up strategy to drive growth in city regions.
“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 as part of its strategy to increase the proportion of R&D funding outside London and the South East.
“It’s a fantastic outcome for Greater Manchester and the West Midlands to be identified as new Innovation Accelerators zones along with Glasgow City Region. Both regions have long been the engines of growth for their wider local economies and so supporting their success makes sense if we’re to level-up the towns and communities they connect with.
“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. These will build on the success of existing high growth clusters and connect them with the towns and conurbations surrounding them to spread their benefits as far as possible.
“The Levelling Up White Paper and its R&D investment strategy must be seen as the start point, not the end. Levelling Up needs to become a bipartisan issue that lasts longer than one parliament and truly addresses the stark spatial imbalances within the UK; quite simply, because things will take much longer than that to fix.
“The focus now needs to shift onto the private sector and its local partners getting geared up to deliver, with the backing of this strategy. But they will need further government intervention and deep, and sustainable long-term investment from the Treasury.”