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

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

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Sub-National Efforts to Support Innovation in the North

The role of sub-national efforts to support innovation is to both tailor strategies and instruments to the specific needs of the region and to fill any gaps in national policy based on the country-specific division of labour. Thus far, Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) have made great strides over the last ten years to support innovation in their regions through a number of instruments including innovation advisory services, centres of excellence, major innovation sites and helping firms access the local science base, among other instruments. However, given the nature of funding for innovation at the national level and limited sub-national fiscal autonomy, sub-national action to support innovation is rather limited in international comparison, resulting in a challenging environment within which RDAs and local authorities need to operate.

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