Our technology expertise will help drive growth in the East

  • Date

    Fri 22 Sep 17

Robot in the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering

A new report on how cutting-edge innovation can drive growth in the East has highlighted our strengths in key sectors such as artificial intelligence, robotics and agri-tech.

Business Minister Lord Prior launched the latest wave of Science and Innovation Audits at Venturefest East this week including one developed for the East of England.

Science and Innovation Audits are a ‘deep dive’ survey of cutting-edge innovation taking place in industry and the public sector. They've been completed to better inform central Government of regional strengths for potential future funding streams and to assist with foreign direct investment.

In the East of England, the Science and Innovation Audit (SIA) was developed by local partners and focused on four themes: Life Sciences; Agri-Tech; Advanced Manufacturing and Materials; and ICT. These four themes represent some of the world’s most influential businesses, ranging from ARM Holdings and HP Autonomy to GSK and Ford.

The audits will inform the Government’s future industrial strategy by identifying how innovation can drive growth.

Dr Rob Singh, Deputy Director from our Research and Enterprise Office, said Essex was well placed to support this due to its range of research expertise and its experience of helping more and more businesses.

He said: “We’re already working with many of the region’s leading technology companies including BT and ARM to put our research into action and develop the talent of the future. Our support for fast-growing hi-tech SMEs also mean we’re in the top 10 in the UK for Innovate UK backed Knowledge Transfer Partnerships.

“This audit shows Essex is ideally placed to take that even further by supporting business to make the most of new opportunities offered by technology. Our world-class researchers have the expertise in AI, robotics, agri-tech and many other key sectors which companies are hungry to connect with.”

The South East Local Enterprise Partnership (South East LEP) has supported the development of the Knowledge Gateway research and technology park at our Colchester Campus. Already home to more than 20 SMEs at Parkside Office Village, we've now started on the next phase of Parkside and the Innovation Centre, which is due to open in 2018 and will deliver space and start-up support for 50 plus companies.

Lord Prior said: “The Science and Innovation Audits highlight the innovative strengths in regions across the UK and the significant growth and investment opportunities they present.

“Together with our record investment of an additional £4.7 billion for research and development to 2020-21, we are working closely with regional businesses and partners to ensure the ambitions set out in these reports are delivered to maintain our status as a science powerhouse.”

Cllr Kevin Bentley is Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Growth; Regeneration and Partnerships Essex County Council and Board Member of South East LEP. He said: “We welcome the launch of this audit which highlights the exciting opportunity to develop the Essex economy as a centre for world class science and innovation.”

Jonathan Legh-Smith, Head of Partnership and Strategic Research at BT, said: “The East of England’s Science and Innovation Audit has uncovered an extraordinary depth of world-class ICT capability in our region. It demonstrates that the region’s expertise has contributed to the UK’s position as the largest digital economy of the G20 nations, underpinned by a world-class digital infrastructure.”

Andrew Spencer, Head of Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation at Rothamsted, said: “Agri-Tech is entering an exciting time with new technologies driving us towards smart, precision agriculture. This Audit not only demonstrates the importance of Agri-Tech to the East of England, but also highlights the areas in which the region can lead the way in the future.”

Steven Wilson, Head of Innovation at Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP and Chair of the SIA Steering Group said: "The Steering Group is proud to present this survey of Science & Innovation in our region, focusing on Life Sciences, Agri-Tech, Advanced Manufacturing & Materials and ICT. The East of England is uniquely placed to explore and exploit areas of convergence, given the confluence of world-class universities and industry with wide and deep expertise, combined with our exceptionally strong innovation ecosystem."

The East continues to attract substantial investment in “the next generation” of early stage business: it is, for example, estimated that over £500m has been invested in Life Sciences companies on Babraham Research Campus over the last two years alone. The region as a whole is attracting the interest of large companies, with major recent investors include Huawei, Google, Apple Microsoft, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Imagination Technologies, Johnson Matthey, Raytheon, Arrow Electronics, Multimatic and Geely.

You can download the full Science and Innovation Audit for the East of England at: