Innovation Places Leadership Academy 

Helping place leaders to foster innovation-led prosperity across the UK .

Innovation is a powerful driver of economic prosperity and regional renewal, generating jobs, investment and opportunity. Realising these benefits requires sustained collaboration and a sense of shared endeavour between local partners. This collaborative leadership practice is an emerging art and a focus for our work at Connected Places Catapult.  

The Innovation Places Leadership Academy (IPLA) is a facilitated programme of coaching and peer-learning which draws on our extensive knowledge and networks to resource places of potential and the people that lead them. Through this programme, we aim to equip a growing network of place leaders to accelerate innovation-led prosperity nationwide.

Because innovation-led levelling up requires whole place collaboration, cohorts include representatives from the public, private and academic sector in each place that takes part.   

Cohort 1: Aberdeen, Portsmouth and Hull  

Our first cohort ran from October 2021 to July 2023 with leaders from Aberdeen, Portsmouth and Hull. Participants spent time with peers wrestling similar challenges to their own, with the objective of becoming more aligned around economic and investment strategies for their areas – and becoming empowered to implement them.   

Through a series of immersive regional gatherings, the cohort benefitted from:   

  • input from globally recognised experts in systems leadership, scale up-support and inclusive innovation;  
  • a bespoke diagnostic of their local innovation ecosystem, drawing on insights from our City Pathways Typologies data tool;   
  • walking tours with candid insights on each participating city’s innovation assets and strategic developments;  
  • opportunities to convene and mobilise wider stakeholders through VIP dinners and networking events;  
  • action learning and 1-2-1 coaching to promote reflection and personal development;   
  • international networking and inspiration by attending the Urban Futures Global Summit in Stuttgart.  
“Through IPLA I have really gained a deeper understanding of my personal agency and grown in personal resilience and mindset to navigate change.”
Louise Smith, Director – Aura Innovation Centre, University of Hull
“It was so reassuring to hear that others are grappling with similar challenges and discovering different approaches to common problems. I found the masterclasses first rate and would highly recommend the programme to other place leaders.” 
Derek Shaw, Director of Innovation and Place, Scottish Enterprise
“I appreciated the insights and knowledge from others on the programme; I realised that many of the opportunities and challenges are the same. The opportunity to share experiences, discuss issues and challenges and get input from other place leaders was invaluable.” 
Jane Lamer, Head of Economic Development and Skills, Portsmouth City Council

Here to help the place sector rise to the moment  

Connected Places Catapult has a strong track record of partnering with regions to bring local partners together, unlock investment, and catalyse innovation. Our expertise is grounded in intelligence from around the world, and we have the resources to support your journey towards becoming a thriving hub of sustainable growth and prosperity.  

From the Belfast City Region to the UK Innovation Districts Network, Connected Places Catapult has a wealth of experience of partnering with places to bring local partners together around shared plans to unlock investment and catalyse new innovation activity. 

The Innovation Places Leadership Academy draws on our extensive knowledge and networks to resource places of potential and the people that lead them.   

In 2021 we published an updated version of our global review of innovation places and an accompanying Playbook for Place leaders. Grounded in intelligence from 700 cities, more than 30 globally recognised innovation clusters and over 100 UK innovation locations, this knowledge base is a vital tool for leaders seeking to foster new economic prosperity in their areas.  

Since then we have also generated a data tool which draws on 25,000 data points from about 500 cities across the UK and worldwide, including more than 2,800 global performance benchmarks, to identify cohorts of peers from which places can learn.  

In the past we have partnered with places to apply this insight and our wider expertise on a bilateral commercial basis. Given the pressing need for economic renewal in the wake of Covid and other global trends, we wanted to find a way to support more places on their journey to becoming thriving hubs of sustainable growth and prosperity.  

In September 2023, we published the Roadmap to Innovation-led Prosperity, a three-part report integrating insights from the innovation places knowledge base, the Innovation Places Leadership Academy pilot cohort, and original dialogue with public and private sector leaders in the UK Core Cities. 

Visit our Place Leadership Hub for more about our resources and services.