Knowledge Quarter Liverpool has joined with leading innovation districts from across the UK to urge the government to channel investment into mature and growing innovation districts.

The UK Innovation Districts Group (IDG) and consulting and engineering firm, Arup, have released a report outlining the importance of these centres to the UK economy. The IDG was established in October 2017 and represents six major innovation districts across the UK – in Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.

According to the report, greater investment in innovation districts will help accelerate productivity growth in the UK. Specifically, it will support more inclusive growth by prioritising diversity, education, skills and social networks to create fair and thriving local economies and is critical to delivering the UK’s Industrial Strategy.

Innovation districts are urban areas with networks of knowledge producing organisations such as universities, research bodies, teaching hospitals, cultural institutions and knowledge-intensive businesses. They bring together innovators, entrepreneurs, researchers, creatives, knowledge workers and investors to collaborate, compare and compete, creating the conditions for business growth.

The report, which marks the first collaborative project for the UK Innovation Districts Group, is launched today at an event at Arup’s London office, chaired by Professor Michael Parkinson from the University of Liverpool.

It looks at the progress made by its districts so far: factors for success, issues to be overcome and the priorities and opportunities for the future. Based on these findings, it sets out a series of recommendations for national and local Government, promoters and institutions including:

  • Government and cities and city regions should prioritise investment in innovation districts to support the delivery of the Industrial Strategy
  • Innovation districts should build on their existing work to help lead the way in increasing productivity through inclusive growth
  • Innovation districts should work together more closely as a national network
  • Cities, city regions and innovation districts should continue to secure capital investment in public spaces, physical and digital infrastructure, and new buildings in innovation districts
  • Government, LEPs and Combined Authorities and cities should invest in developing the hard and soft networks to support business growth in innovation districts

Colin Sinclair, chief executive of Knowledge Quarter Liverpool, said: “In a world post-Brexit, the UK will rely on its intellectual property, its people and their productivity more than ever.

“Placemaking is a much-used phrase, but it matters. If we are to improve people’s lives, by creating genuinely inclusive growth, we need to start by improving their health outcomes, improving housing stock, building world-leading science and tech facilities, with great connectivity, and most important of all investing in people through education and training.”

Tom Bridges, director at Arup, said: “This report shows that innovation districts are emerging as new urban districts that can help UK cities create, scale up and attract fast-growing firms which will drive more productive and inclusive economic growth. In the context of the UK’s sluggish productivity growth, government and cities should prioritise investment in innovation districts as part of a place-based approach to delivering the industrial strategy.”

Emma Frost, chair of the UK Innovation Districts Group, said: “Innovation Districts are reshaping and rejuvenating major urban areas around the UK. This inaugural report highlights the real potential that innovation districts have to increase productivity and ensure local economies across the UK are more economically inclusive and prosperous.”

The full report: UK Innovation Districts and Knowledge Quarters – Driving More Productive Growth, can be read in full online at: