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Scotland must take more collaborative advantage of its innovation clusters for greater prosperity Header Template

‘Scotland must take more collaborative advantage of its innovation clusters for greater prosperity’

5 minutes
Posted: 14-February-2024

A UK government innovation report has named Glasgow and Edinburgh as standout cities for their ‘high cross-county collaboration’ – a relationship that can be learnt from and further exploited, says InnoScot Health

The new report, entitled Identifying and describing UK innovation clusters, has been produced by the Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology, recognising that the UK’s competitive advantage in research and innovation derives from ‘innovative places’ but they need to be better mapped to encourage and unblock the flow of investment.

It pinpoints Edinburgh as one of the UK’s strongest cities for internal collaboration thanks to it being “anchored by strong research universities and private R&D operations”.

However, the report also believes that marked collaboration between Edinburgh and Glasgow is a result of strong relationships cultivated between the cities across various sectors.

It noted that a key learning from this for the wider innovation landscape is that “places tend to cooperate more frequently with partners in their own broad geographic region” which, the report thought, further suggests, “a regional effect” happening across many parts of the UK.

This emphasis on realising place-based benefits for improved economic growth and better outcomes for people and communities aligns with the Scottish Government’s ‘Place Principle’.

Formal NHS Scotland partner InnoScot Health insists that strong place-based partnerships forged with academic institutions, funders, entrepreneurs, and industrial partners are vital to the country’s innovation ambitions and prosperity.

Executive Chair of InnoScot Health, Graham Watson said: “I believe that what we can learn chiefly from this report is that, while Glasgow and Edinburgh’s strong, mutually beneficial relationship is clear, Scotland should be well-placed to further replicate that place-based success outside of the Central Belt.

“If proximity and commonality help to engender collaborative trust, economic growth, and fundamentally innovation, then Scotland’s size puts it at a distinct advantage, and we must continue to get better at thinking of ourselves as a country with great opportunity to exploit our vast wellspring of expertise.

“The country’s other two noted innovation clusters, Aberdeen and Dundee, offer their own unique place-based expertise – and of course every Scottish region contributes fantastic cross-sector diversity of a kind that other countries can only dream of.

“Many within the same sectors have similar goals but fail to see collaborative opportunities, despite clear patterns and synergies.”

He added: “The further creation of exciting, globally leading clusters of Scottish innovation is within our grasp if we just join the dots and extend our reach a little further.”

The report concluded that “understanding patterns in the geography of clusters can unlock valuable insights to more effectively target investments and tailor supportive policies.”

In autumn last year, the British Business Bank (BBB) identified the life sciences industry as the largest sub-sector across Scotland’s four innovation clusters in terms of deal numbers and investment value.

Edinburgh, and its surrounding areas, was named the leading UK innovation cluster for equity deals outside of London, Oxford, and Cambridge.

BBB found the region was home to almost 500 equity deals over the last 12 years, amounting to a value of £710m.

The capital was followed by the Greater Glasgow area, which was host to more than 250 deals during the same period.

Almost half of transactions in Glasgow and Aberdeen meanwhile involved an academic spinouts.

InnoScot Health has been working in partnership with NHS Scotland for over 20 years to support improvements in patient care while stimulating economic wealth.

It has helped to bring many innovators together from different regions and health boards across Scotland to accelerate successful ideas including the SCRAM™ (Structured CRitical Airway Management) portfolio and SARUS-CPR hood.

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