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Johnston Press publishes UK Local Innovation Index research

Research by Cebr for Johnston Press reveals hotspots in research, technology, networking, and creativity to rival capital.

According to Johnston Press:

* Aberdeen leads UK in patent applications

* Portsmouth identified as start-up capital of the South

* Surrey & Sussex emerge as hi-tech “incubator zones”

* Birmingham’s “Silicon Canal” drives Midlands resurgence

* Greater Manchester has top innovation ecosystem, followed by Merseyside and the West Midlands

* West Yorkshire and Northumberland and Tyne & Wear revealed as potential future innovation hubs

Britain’s first-ever nationwide UK Local Innovation Index, compiled by the Centre for Economics & Business Research for Johnston Press, reveals the extraordinary dynamism and creativity of the nation’s local businesses.

The study, published on Friday, brings together 11 discrete data sources under four over-arching pillars – Innovative People, R&D and Technology, Innovative Outputs, and Ideas & Inventions – to give the broadest possible perspective on innovation across the UK, and to illustrate the extent to which towns and cities outside London are shaping the thriving “innovation economy”.

The UK Local Innovation Index also measured the strength of the “innovation ecosystems” in each area using seven identified ‘ingredients’ for facilitating innovation: Connectivity, talent pool, living costs, culture of entrepreneurialism, universities, government funding and mobility. It found that Greater Manchester tops the UK ranks with the best innovation ecosystem, followed by Merseyside and the West Midlands. West Yorkshire and Northumberland and Tyne & Wear were found to be potential innovation hubs of the future.

“At Johnston Press, we speak to businesses of all sizes every day across the UK, and we know that local media is phenomenally important to them; not only does it offer the opportunity to speak to other businesses, but also to consumers,” said Ashley Highfield, CEO of Johnston Press. “For that reason, we were keen to spearhead this research to address the misconception that ‘digital Britain’ is confined to a square half-mile of east London.”

“This landmark research by Cebr reveals an infinitely more fascinating picture. It identifies thousands of amazing, ground-breaking businesses – from start-ups through to major corporations – in every corner of the UK.”

“Too often, innovation is defined in very narrow terms. What the inaugural Innovation Index shows is how companies are harnessing the power of technology in new and ever-more productive ways. And their dynamism is setting the tone for our national economic recovery, making a huge contribution to the future prosperity of the UK.”

Colm Sheehy, Senior Economist, Cebr, said: “This is the first time we have undertaken a study of local innovation in the UK, and our aim has been to define innovation in a more holistic way than has traditionally been the case.

“Our UK Local Innovation Index encompasses the marketing, networking and organisational innovations that occur in creative and knowledge-intensive industries. The research has opened our eyes to a whole world of extraordinary innovation that’s not limited by geography.”

Key additional findings from the report

Innovation according to four key pillars:

Innovative People

* Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire set to rival inner London for the UK’s most innovative workforce.

R&D and Technology

* Cheshire is first in class ahead of London for R&D and Technology.

* Inner London ranks seventh for R&D and Technology, despite hosting world-renowned university and research departments.

* “Golden triangle” of universities leads innovation in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and East Anglia.

Innovative Outputs

* Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire come up top for most innovative products and services.

* Surrey, East & West Sussex come in at second place for most innovative products and services.

Ideas and Inventions

* Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire are the new hot beds for today's inventions.

* North-East Scotland is the second most inventive area in the UK making it a hub for inventions and ideas.

Innovation according to regions:


* Birmingham is the top location in the West Midlands for start-up firms. This reflects ‘Silicon Canal’, Birmingham’s start-up tech community.

* East Midlands is top for innovative enterprises in UK, reflecting innovation hotspots such as Nottingham.

* Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire is best for employment in high-tech sectors in the Midlands. University areas of Coventry and Warwick have fostered the location of over 130 high-tech companies employing over 2000 people.

North East

* Tyneside is the best area for start-up firms in the North East, reflecting recent regeneration and investment in the area.

* Tees Valley and Durham are centres for innovative companies.

North Midlands & South Yorkshire

* Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham is the top location for start-ups in South Yorkshire.

* Nottinghamshire and Derby are best for R&D employment in North Mdilands & South Yorkshire, a reflection of two world-class universities and home to numerous global companies.

North West

* Blackpool has the highest concentration of start-ups in the North West.

* Cheshire top in the country for business R&D expenditure, a reflection of the location of major science and technology firms.

* Merseyside is best in North West for university R&D expenditure in North West, supported by the presence of several leading UK universities.


* Aberdeen is a hotspot for inventions with the most patent applications per employee in the UK.

* Eastern Scotland is best area in Scotland for knowledge-intensive employment.

* Glasgow outshines Edinburgh as entrepreneurial hub of Scotland.

South of England

* Portsmouth is best location for start-up firms in South, an area that boasts links to seaports and airports and proximity to four universities.

* Surrey, East and West Sussex are top in the UK for high-tech patent applications, driven by the location of numerous high-tech industries such as aerospace, defence, and advanced manufacturing.

* The Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Bristol/Bath area rank second for R&D personnel employment in the South of England, boosted by the deep talent pool that is fostered by the location of leading universities and driven by the location of numerous high-tech firms.


* Leeds is best city in Yorkshire for start-up firms, boasting close links to Manchester and Sheffield, the ports of Hull and Humber and home to the Leeds Bradford International Airport.

* East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire best for R&D personnel employment in Yorkshire.

* West Yorkshire best in region for knowledge-intensive employment.

Northern Ireland

* Northern Ireland is a strong scene for innovating companies, with over a fifth of Northern Ireland business leaders spending up to five percent of their revenue on innovative activities.

* High knowledge-intensive employment is found in Northern Ireland, a function of the location of numerous firms within the industries ranging from aerospace and defence to renewables and energy.

Innovation ecosystem ranking:

* Greater Manchester has top innovation ecosystem in the UK, followed by Merseyside and the West Midlands.

* West Yorkshire and Northumberland and Tyne & Wear were found to be potential innovation hubs of the future.