The Science and Innovation Audits (SIAs) were first announced on 16 July 2015 by the Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson MP. SIAs draw on the concept of Smart Specialisation which aims to boost jobs and growth by identifying strategic areas for intervention for a local economy based on analysis of its strengths and potential. Through the SIAs, consortia of local businesses, universities and local government throughout the UK have come together to develop an agreed understanding of their local competitive advantage.
The aims of the SIAs can be summarised as:
- Add to the evidence base that describes the UK’s science and innovation excellence and its link to productivity, thereby helping to inform the Industrial Strategy and other central government policy
- Help local actors understand their own strengths, weaknesses and opportunities, strengthening bids for future assessment and strategic planning
- Increase collaboration between businesses, universities and local government
Over three waves, 25 SIA reports have been produced by consortia from across the UK. Consortia were formed from the bottom-up and had the freedom to assess their own sectors and geographies without being confined by existing sectoral classifications or administrative geographies.
Northern Powerhouse: Chemicals and Process Sector Science and Innovation Audit
Tees Valley Combined Authority (the Combined Authority) and Durham University co-authored a Wave 3 Audit entitled: Northern Powerhouse: Chemicals and Process Sector Science and Innovation Audit
The audit sets out to assess the chemical and processing sector innovation ecosystem across the Northern Powerhouse embracing the interests of the chemical manufacturing, speciality chemicals, pharmaceutical intermediaries, formulated performance products, polymers and plastics, technical consultancy sub sectors and their associated supply chains.
The sector is focused in the economic corridor between Tees Valley, Humberside and the North West Cluster around Liverpool, who between them contribute £32bn of GVA (2013) and support 520,000 jobs (approximately 36% of the UK sectoral output) and whose cumulative critical mass ensures that the UK can contribute to being globally competitive in this vital enabling sector.
The vision of the study is to ensure that the Northern Powerhouse contributes to the successful delivery of the Strategy for Chemistry fuelled growth: which aims to deliver ‘’by 2030, chemistry using industries will increase their contribution to the UK economy from £195billion to £300 billion.’’
To support this, our overall aim is to ‘deepen UK and international knowledge networks as a mechanism:
- For domestic diffusion of innovation and enhanced cross sectoral productivity; and
- In the longer term the development of an internationally competitive ‘knowledge based growth hub’ for the chemicals and processing sector.
The purpose of the Audit is therefore to identify the networks, skills, capabilities and facilities needed to ensure continued global competitiveness and to identify actions that the consortium can take or investment needed to fully realise the vision. In our audit, we therefore propose to evidence the following sub-hypotheses:
- That a strong science and innovation base will retain, nurture and grow the sector; and
- That the Northern Powerhouse has the capacity and capability to substantially deliver the Strategy for Chemistry fuelled growth and so ensure continued global competitiveness.