Innovation GM provides £7bn blueprint to create 100,000 jobs, boost R&D investment and level up the North

A £7bn blueprint for translational innovation between Greater Manchester and Government catalysing inclusive economic growth could support the UK in achieving its goals of levelling up the North and increasing global trade.

The University of Manchester will be joined by leading innovators from business, science, academia and local government in developing the Innovation GM partnership as the basis of a formal collaboration deal with Government, suggesting it could create 100,000 jobs and boost the economy by £7bn.

As well as collaborating with local government and partner institutions on driving research and innovation, The University of Manchester will play a key role in acting as a beacon to attract new and pioneering business to the area.

Innovation GM is a key pillar of the city-region’s Economic Vision, the plan to deliver a fairer, greener and more productive Greater Manchester economy beyond the pandemic. It would leverage and accelerate the success of Greater Manchester’s existing research and development (R&D) hubs in global frontier sectors, including advanced materials and manufacturing, health innovation, digital and creative, and clean growth.

Professor Luke Georghiou, Deputy President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester said: “The University of Manchester, through its outstanding research and the people it trains, is a driving force for Greater Manchester’s innovation and knowledge economy. We will play a central role in this initiative, collaborating with business, local government and Manchester’s other educational and research institutions with the goal of strengthening Greater Manchester’s economy further, improving the lives of its citizens.

“We also will seek to lever our global network of collaborators and alumni to attract innovative business to the city and project Greater Manchester’s reputation as a global hub for innovation.”

The University of Manchester will also look to further its existing Greater Manchester-specific programmes supporting business such as; Bridging the Gap which helps local SMEs develop new ventures using graphene and engaging with the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC), health innovation (including Pankhurst), cyber security and AI, and sustainable materials with the Royce Institute, with support from ERDF and the Local Growth Fund.

Bringing together local and national agencies to support an innovation cluster spanning the city-region would help to attract significant inward investment and close the R&D expenditure gap in Greater Manchester and the North, eventually creating an innovation ‘supercluster’ that would significantly add to UK Plc and advance the levelling up agenda.

The launch of Innovation GM is being led on behalf of the GM LEP by interim Chair, Chris Oglesby, CEO of Bruntwood and GM LEP board member; and Independent Science Advisor, Professor Richard Jones, Chair in Materials Physics and Innovation Policy at The University of Manchester.

Chris Oglesby said: “Innovation GM provides an exciting blueprint for Greater Manchester to work with government and other agencies to direct public sector investment where it would have the most significant economic impact, creating exciting new businesses and levelling up communities across the North.

“Innovation Zones that link labs to industry in city centres, town centres and advanced manufacturing parks would ensure that Innovation GM has a presence and impact in every district in GM and across the North, with the symbiotic relationships between these Zones creating enhanced economic, social and scientific impacts – including high quality jobs and increased trade and investment.“

Professor Jones, who has been appointed as Scientific Advisor to the body, will build on previous work on regional imbalances across the UK in R&D spending and the potential role of research and development in “levelling up” economic performance across the UK. He said: “Innovation GM is a signal that Greater Manchester wants to work with government to support its levelling up agenda.

“Innovation GM is a collective effort; whose aim is that we use the skills and potential of everyone in the city region to make and grow new businesses in the technologies of the future.

“It is also outward-looking – it’s not just about what happens in the city limits, but aims to be a catalyst across the North, cementing Greater Manchester’s role as a growth pole for the whole nation’s economy.”

Lou Cordwell, Chair of the GM LEP, said: “Innovation GM is central to our Economic Vision for Greater Manchester. The changes we want to see in our economy, like becoming more diverse and resilient, introducing better ways of working, building vibrant places, and tackling social issues, will be fuelled by innovation.

“The partnership represents an opportunity to build on our sector strengths and ensure that the benefits of R&D activity are felt across Greater Manchester and the North, supporting the UK in levelling up and achieving its ambitions for international trade.”

Cllr Elise Wilson, GMCA economy portfolio lead, said: “Greater Manchester is a place with clear potential. Our towns and cities have the right mix of leadership, scientific excellence, and vision to demonstrate how we can level up through science and innovation.

“Innovation GM could help the Government realise its ambitions for the R&D Place Plan and Innovation Strategy, and we’re committed to working with them to help our city-region achieve its potential.”

Juergen Maier, Vice-Chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “For the North to thrive and become a world leader, we need to find ways to encourage innovation and the adoption of digital technologies. Led by business, Innovation GM represents a unique blueprint for collaboration with government to unlock the potential that translational innovation provides to level up in Greater Manchester and the North.”

Innovation GM is an ambitious plan to create a new place-based partnership, led by businesses and entrepreneurs, to build on Greater Manchester’s existing R&D assets and public sector delivery capacity to drive innovation-led growth in towns, city centres, and out-of-town science and technology parks in every district in GM and across the North.

Innovation GM would capitalise on the national and international growth opportunities provided by Greater Manchester’s distinctive and inter-related asset base in its core sector strengths of advanced materials and manufacturing, health innovation, digital and creative, and low carbon to support aligned R&D activity.

A proposal for an Advanced Manufacturing Materials Park – part of the Gateway North development in North Greater Manchester – is just one example of how Greater Manchester might build on its frontier sector strengths. Other live opportunities for Innovation GM include the Salford Crescent and ID Manchester redevelopment plans.


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