OECD Reviews of Regional Innovation, North of England, United Kingdom 2008

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With 14.5 million inhabitants and an economy worth over EUR 290 billion, the North of England is larger than many European countries. At the heart of the industrial revolution, the region has been a historic centre for world-changing innovation in transport, computing and in vitro fertilisation. Yet, in the wake of massive losses in manufacturing employment over the past few decades, the region is having to adapt in order to catch up to more prosperous regions in the UK and remain competitive globally.

Like many regions around the OECD, the North of England is seeking to support economic development through innovation, with strategies that build on the region's heritage while also looking to develop new strengths. This report reviews how both national policy and regional strategies support innovation in the North and how these efforts could be improved. It will be of interest to policy makers, firms and others active in promoting innovation and regional economic development.



North of England and Innovation

This chapter provides an overview of the North of England from a demographic, economic and innovation perspective. The first question it raises is whether the North is an appropriate unit of analysis as one regional innovation system. While there are several common challenges across different parts of the North, it does not constitute one system. There are considerable intra-regional variations in performance, including across the eight city-regions and between urban centres and more rural areas. The chapter then considers the industrial history of the region and the changes in industrial composition that explain in part productivity differences with other UK regions. The analysis of industrial composition also sets the stage for interpreting innovation indicators and needs. In some cases the variation in results across regions can be explained in part by industrial composition differences (R&D investment, patenting) and in other areas (propensity for firms to innovate) these regional differences are less obvious. The position of the three regions of the North of England with respect to different innovation indicators and regional innovation system typologies is assessed, including comparisons with other regions of similar characteristics. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the strengths and opportunities for the North going forward that national and regional policies and strategies could support.


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