What now for the innovation economy and places?

How does innovation happen in places? What does it mean for a place to be an innovation location? And how important is place when we think about the wider innovation economy, especially in the economic aftermath of a global pandemic?

In this second episode of Connected Places, Professor Greg Clark speaks to Professor Peter Tyler from the University of Cambridge. We also meet Dr. Tim Moonen, Director of The Business of Cities – an urban research and intelligence group, and Dr. Amy Hochadel, Director of Global Business Growth at the Connected Places Catapult.

Music on this episode is by Blue Dot Sessions and Phill Ward Music (www.phillward.com)

Show notes

Professor Peter Tyler is a professor in urban and regional economics at the University of Cambridge. Pete has been an expert advisor to the UK government, the European Commission, the OECD and UN Habitat, and he has written extensively on urban economies, the performance of cities, and the UK’s industrial policy.

Dr. Tim Moonen is the Managing Director of The Business of Cities. He has advised more than 30 global cities and regions to help senior teams review their strategies, leadership and policies. He has co-authored more than 50 reports and books on city competitiveness, governance and performance and he teaches executive-level education for international companies and universities.

Dr. Amy Hochadel is the Director of Global Business Growth at the Connected Places Catapult. She works with local leaders, entrepreneurs, city and national governments around the world, including the Gulf states, South East Asia, India, Africa, the European Union, the United Kingdom and the USA.

To read more about how the Catapult worked with the Emirate of Sharjah, and to also download the Sharjah Champion Toolkit for innovation locations, click here.

To find out more about what we do at the Connected Places Catapult, visit our website for the latest news, events and announcements – and please sign up to our newsletter!

Discussion points

The role of place in the innovation economy
  • Places need to understand their competitive advantages and connectivity across a region or a country is vital for the innovation economy.
  • COVID-19 is unlikely to fundamentally change the need for clustering in the innovation economy.
  • Productivity variations are not just between sectors, but within sectors and businesses.
  • Businesses need to be able to access innovation and new ways of working
  • Timing is crucial for the levelling-up agenda, particularly for businesses and places beyond the South East of the UK.
  • Local industrial strategies are critical in keeping businesses in play, while also becoming more innovative.
  • It’s more than just a north-south divide in the UK. Most British cities have been affected by this, but northern cities have a chance to catch up.
  • Levelling up requires both resources and fundamental institutional change.
  • The convergence of ICT, bio-science and nano-science are one particularly strong area for the UK
  • The UK needs to be develop a much stronger interface between business, industry and local leadership. Devolution is critical to this and the UK could learn a lot from the German model.
  • The four critical factors in innovation economies are businesses, investors, knowledge institutions and places themselves. Innovation happens best and the boundaries of these.
  • Places make it possible for the interactions that create business success “to be in the air”.
Understanding innovation locations
  • Places need to audit their advantages and opportunities – are they attracting innovation from beyond, or growing it internally?
  • Creating the right physical and institutional structures that connect businesses and information is critical
  • Enabling the right relationships to develop between people is also vital
  • Understanding the unique attributes of places is critical for policy makers
  • There are long corridors that can become focusses of innovation in some places, but in others it can be individual streets and city blocks
  • Tailoring scale, location and the fabric of place to innovation requirements is vital
  • The economic recovery will require us to rethink the city centre
  • Mitigating downside risks, protecting key systems and promoting human health
  • Working more cohesively at the regional level will be crucial for place leaders
  • 2nd and 3rd tiers cities will need to position themselves more boldly and have the opportunity to make great strides; Greater Manchester, Toulouse, Lyon, Hamburg and Munich are ones to watch.
  • Small cities (200-500k size) have an opportunity to become more global in their innovation economies
  • We’re likely to see more of a merge between the science and creative sectors in the innovation economy
  • Logistics is also a huge opportunity for innovation within cities, particularly the ‘last mile’ element.
  • Understanding the ‘personality’ of locations has been critical to the Catapult’s understanding of innovation around the world: assets and infrastructure, business environment, vision and leadership.
  • It’s also important to understand different types of locations and where they are at in their journey: this is critical for a convening organisation like the Catapult, when connecting companies and innovators with the right locations.