County's innovation board publishes blueprint for growth

By Tim Aldred

19 Jul 2023

Lancashire Innovation Plan Launch

The Lancashire Innovation Board has collaborated with the leading universities and innovation organisations to launch a new strategic growth plan for the county.

The innovation board is a sub-committee of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, and it has developed the ‘blueprint for growth’ in partnership with Lancashire County Council with input from a range of key institutions.

The Lancashire Innovation Plan (LIP) is built around four central pillars: Grow, Expand, Connect and Tell.

The Grow and Expand pillars focus on maintaining, strengthening and extending Lancashire’s world-class capabilities in innovation-led sectors such as aerospace, advanced manufacturing, energy and chemicals.

They also outline the need to maximise and broaden the county’s R&D offer, and exploit new opportunities in emerging markets including electech, cyber, the digital industries, health, and low carbon.

These pillars also highlight the need to increase engagement with local businesses, and encourage more innovation-based growth across all sectors, and at all levels.

While both the Grow and Expand sections concentrate on boosting innovation capacity and networking activity within Lancashire, the Connect and Tell pillars are designed to drive engagement with external partners, national investors, and global markets.

Their activities also include closer strategic working with Lancashire’s neighbouring north west regions, and across the UK, to develop more joint innovation opportunities.

Further, undertaking more communication and lobbying aimed at key influencers and policymakers, including central government, are set to be part of an overarching campaign to tell Lancashire’s innovation story to the rest of the world.

The LIP outlines the significant economic benefits which Lancashire could enjoy by pursuing these four strategic pathways, and includes a series enabling actions to help each pillar deliver its objectives.

There are specific interventions designed to maximise assets like the National Cyber Force HQ, the AMRC North West, UCLan’s Engineering Innovation Centre, and Lancaster University’s Health Innovation Campus, as well as a proposal to establish a Lancashire Innovation Observatory to monitor, anticipate and evaluate new commercial opportunities.

Other actions are centred around the identification and amplification of ‘Smart Specialisations’; core industry strengths and R&D specialisms which could help Lancashire position itself as global trailblazer within several high-growth and in-demand sectors.

Additional activities recommend by the LIP include facilitating more sector clustering; adopting a more targeted approach to securing research funding; ramping up innovation support specifically for SMEs; creating a programme of investor pitch events; enabling more university spin-outs and spin-ins; and developing a more innovation-focused inward investment marketing strategy.

Prof Graham Baldwin, vice chancellor of UCLan, chair of the Lancashire Innovation Board and LEP board member, said: "Our strengths in technology-based and digitalised industries, our universities’ outstanding reputation for applied research, our highly skilled workforce, and our world-class R&D assets, have all helped lay the foundations for significant innovation-led growth across Lancashire.

“But to maximise our full potential, we recognise that the county needs a cohesive roadmap which connects these assets, consolidates our significant commercial and academic strengths, and engages with businesses of all sizes and types."

He added: “A plan is only as good as the people and organisations who engage with it, which is why we are calling upon all of Lancashire’s business leaders, HEIs, policymakers, support agencies, and wider partners, to support its vision, ambition, and implementation, in every way they can.”

After the Lancashire Innovation Plan was officially launched at FHunded, a new
networking platform for Lancashire businesses, investors and intermediaries hosted by the Fraser House co-working hub in Lancaster, a national launch is hoped to be held in London later in the year.

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