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The UK’s regional productivity disparities & the “levelling up” agenda. What’s the role of research?

The UK has a profound problem of regional disparities in productivity performance, with second tier cities that underperform compared to expectations based on their size, and deindustrialised towns and urban areas that have failed to find productive new economic roles. The distribution of research and development investment in the UK – especially in the public sector – is also highly skewed to the prosperous Greater South East.

At this Vital Topics event, Richard A.L. Jones, Vice-President for Regional Innovation and Civic Engagement, University of Manchester, discusses the evidence – and the uncertainties – relating to the link between R&D and productivity at a subnational level, and outline the institutional landscape that has led to the UK’s current, highly unbalanced, regional distribution of R&D. He considers some of the uses and pitfalls of using innovation policy as an instrument of regional economic development.

He reflects on recent policy development in the UK, as the current Government’s “levelling up” slogan is turned into concrete policy. We have seen the idea of “place” become a new theme in the Innovation Strategy, and a transition from an “Industrial Strategy” driven by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, to a HM Treasury driven “Plan for Growth”. We now await the imminent arrival of a Levelling Up White Paper, driven by a joint No 10/ Cabinet Office unit.

Finally, Richard considers how best devolved nations, regions and cities in the UK should respond to this agenda, and discuss the role of GM’s new initiative, Innovation Greater Manchester.

This event is facilitated by Elvira Uyarra, Professor of Innovation Studies at Alliance Manchester Business School.

Sponsored by DWF and Capita, Vital Topics is Alliance MBS’ series of prestigious business lectures, bringing powerful ideas and original thinking to audiences from the Manchester city-region and beyond.

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