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Reversing the innovation decline in the Leeds City Region and beyond

Yorkshire has seen the biggest drop in businesses investing in research and development for growth according to the most recent U.K. Innovation Survey.

Against a 3% decline in R&D nationally, Yorkshire was the region with the steepest dip at 14%, ahead of the North East at 10% and the East Midlands at 4%. Only the South West showed an innovation activity increase according to the report by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

“The statistics are a wake-up call, but the good news is that we have all the individual ingredients in place to reverse the decline,” said Dr Martin Stow, Nexus Director at the University of Leeds’ new £40m innovation centre, which is set to open early next year.

The drop in R&D investment in our region takes us from a leading position, to one which is much more in line with other regions, with around half our businesses active in new product and business development.

“We want to lead the innovation march again, so our aim is to help more existing businesses, new enterprises and inspired graduates to access university research teams and resources, which will help them to realise the tremendous value of R&D in translating their ideas into market success. The University of Leeds has produced over 100 spin-out companies, six of which now have a market value of over £500m on AIM – more than any other UK university – and there are many more in the pipeline.

Individual light bulb moments are still crucial to innovation, but ground-breaking ideas, inventions and products are increasingly about pools of talent, shared expertise and collaboration. We intend to be at the forefront of facilitating the growth of combined technology and innovation-led business growth across the region.”

Close up of Dr Martin Stow stood outside the Nexus building

Dr Martin Stow was formerly Vice-President for Research and Development with international healthcare group Johnson & Johnson and recently launched an innovative DNA personalised skincare business. As Nexus Director, he will work with businesses to identify and create research partnerships that deliver commercial impact and utilise the centre’s state-of-the-art office and lab spaces, meeting and conference facilities.

Leeds City Region is the largest economic area in the country, outside London and the South East. With a GVA of £65Bn, it has over 120,000 businesses and more than 100,000 people employed in the science, research, engineering and technology sectors. It is home to NHS England, NHS Digital, two of the UK’s largest teaching hospitals and global giants in medical technology and pharmaceuticals.