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Science and Innovation Audit confirms UK digital economy is driven by the southern England

21 September 2017

A new government sponsored Science and Innovation Audit (SIA) has revealed that the South of England – Innovation South, is the backbone of UK’s digital economy. Stretching from Dorset to Kent and from Berkshire to the Isle of Wight, Innovation South covers eight counties across southern England, with a total economic output of £225.3 billion, accounting for 13.7% of UK’s economic output.

The audit report released by the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), presented evidence to illustrate that the Innovation South area is at the forefront of advances in digital innovations across a wide range of industrial sectors that can transform and improve our daily lives – from augmented reality devices which help train surgeons doing knee replacements to robotic submarines that are helping to combat global warming; from driverless shuttle buses to some of the fastest growing creative digital communities.

Dr Mike Short CBE, Vice President Telefonica, Europe and Chairman of the Innovation South Strategic Steering Group said:

"The Science & Innovation Audits are very important to uncover underlying sector strengths in our huge region, and to identify opportunities for better collaboration and sustainable growth across the UK.

“Now that our Audit is complete, our primary focus is on following up with pragmatic steps to progress our partnership and implement the recommendations of the Audit. We are confident that with the great support we have had from Industry, Universities, and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP), we can build on the Audit to maximise opportunities for our region in the future."

Sir Christopher Snowden, Solent LEP Board Director, said:

"The Innovation South SIA has provided a timely opportunity to showcase to Government the exceptional science, technology and innovation strengths and capability of the Solent, and wider south and south east regions of England, both within industry and academia.  With new innovation funding becoming available through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, for example, this Audit places the area in a strong position to make a case for investment to drive economic growth through the industries and technologies of tomorrow."

SIA demonstrates that Innovation South stands out in the UK for its expertise across a range of digital enabling technologies, including 5G, Cyber security, Big Data, Photonics and Quantum. The region’s strengths in digital enabling technologies, are commercially applied across four sectors, which include Connected Digital, Marine and Maritime, Bioscience and Advanced Engineering. The result is a high growth, high value and a highly successful knowledge-based regional economy, with outstanding potential for further innovation and growth - if all assets are successfully integrated.

Innovation South is a national asset, attracting many global corporations to locate their UK and European headquarters. The economic area has the largest share of foreign direct investment projects in the UK, outside of London, with a robust export performance supported by strong links to London and international markets via Channel Tunnel in Kent, Heathrow, Gatwick and Southampton airports, as well as the Port of Southampton. The audit recommends that sustaining the success of Innovation South, and driving its innovation-led productivity even further, is critical to the success of the UK’s digital economy and the nation’s competiveness in global markets

Business Minister Lord Prior said:

“The Science and Innovation Audits we are publishing today 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.”

Innovation South is one of eight science and innovation audits across the UK. They have been commissioned by BEIS to help inform government’s investment decisions based on established areas of regional strengths that may stimulate productivity economic growth. The SIA report from Innovation South can be downloaded online here.

Summary SIA reports from Innovation South and other parts of the UK can be accessed here.