Hubs of Innovation

Connected Places Catapult has worked with a range of public and private sector place leaders to seed and stimulate local hubs of innovation both in the UK and globally. 

It is now widely recognised that economic productivity is unevenly distributed across the UK.

The towns and cities with the highest productivity and growth tend to have harnessed innovative products and services, creating the right conditions for success. As global strategist Parag Khanna puts it, “Connectivity is destiny”. A place cannot change its location, but investing in its connectedness – whether physical, digital or social connectivity – can create new opportunities.

The development and implementation of connected places innovations that deliver greater mobility, access, optimise land use, improve decision making, foster new public spaces and points of human interaction are therefore integral to both the revival of regional economies and the sustained success of the UK’s existing engines of innovation.

“Connectivity is destiny. A place cannot change where it is located, but by investment in its connectedness it can create new opportunities.”
Parag Khanna

Connected Places Catapult has worked with a range of public and private sector place leaders to seed and stimulate local hubs of innovation both in the UK and globally.

From the Belfast City Region to Sharjah in the UAE, we have experience partnering with places to help unlock new economic potential through the adoption of new technologies and innovative approaches. We help seed and scale new and existing hubs of innovation by mobilising local and regional ecosystems around a shared plan and attracting investment.

Building on that experience, we have generated a range of new analysis and guidance to help more places spark new hubs of innovation activity or amplify the impact of existing ones.

Projects, Case studies, news & events

Levelling up the UK through inclusive innovation
The UK is positioning itself to be a global hub for innovation by 2035. But how do we make sure that the innovation economy creates opportunities for people and communities from all corners of the country?
The World Cities Summit
International conference on public governance and the sustainable development of cities.
Episode 17
Hubs of Innovation: The Importance of Understanding Place
In the 2021 Budget, the UK Chancellor, Rishi Sunak MP announced a commitment “to stimulating private sector investment to create jobs, develop hubs of innovation, and revitalise local areas and regions across every part of the UK”. The innovation economy has become one of the defining features of the economic cycle, especially the role of […]
Locally Rooted and Inclusive Innovation is the Key to Sustained and Scaled Success
The UK is at an important inflection point in its ambition to create world-class hubs of innovation – places fuelled by the technologies, the trust and the teamwork to become genuine destinations of discovery and drivers of new skills, good jobs and broad-based opportunity.  Covid-19, Brexit, Net Zero and Levelling Up provide a compelling set […]
Skills for innovation-led levelling up
A big data lens on regional growth and specialisation in the UK
Innovation Hubs – A Platform to Accelerate the Levelling Up Agenda
We are living in a period of immense change. The centralisation of past decades is giving way to multipolarity as, up and down the country, there is recognition that improving investment, productivity, and social infrastructure outside of existing centres should be a priority.  This is, of course, not a new idea – recognition of regional disparity in the UK has long preceded the “levelling up” agenda – but the […]
Innovation Places Summit
The CPC Innovation Places Summit will convene national place-makers and innovation practitioners who are looking to build the next generation of UK innovative hubs, quarters, and districts.
How Bergen’s derelict shipyards became hubs of innovation
In the 1970s and 1980s Norway’s shipbuilding industry was in decline. In Bergen, the country’s second largest city, the shipyards fell empty and were left to rust. But in recent years these derelict shipyards have had a new lease of life.
Local authorities: curating places of innovation
This event will seek to explore the role that local government can play in helping create the right conditions for hubs to develop and flourish and thereby capture the potential benefits.
Dispersive Innovation
Disruption is one of innovation’s closest allies. History, littered with disruptive events, technological or natural episodes, has changed how we live, work, and play in our urban areas. The invention of the internal combustion engine allowed cities to develop horizontally, whilst the elevator enabled cities to spread vertically.  While the ramifications are yet to be […]
Third Thursday: levelling up lessons from Belfast and beyond
With levelling up high on the political agenda, we invite Deborah Colville, City Innovation Manager & Head of Smart Belfast, to share her experiences
Connectivity is the key to recovery
Enriching innovation ecosystems with diversity in business and cities
The question of which places in the UK might be the best targets for investment and attention in terms of R&D-led ‘levelling up’ has been (at least until very recently) a hot topic. Having been deeply embedded in the journey of the Bristol & Bath innovation ecosystems, and more recently in Gloucestershire’s cyber-tech ecosystem, Connected Places Catapult […]
UK growth centres report launched by Connected Places Catapult
Connected Places Catapult has today launched a new report that examines how proposed investments in research and development might be best directed to realise the government’s levelling up ambitions. Authored by Centre for Cities, a non-partisan think tank, ‘Identifying potential growth centres across the UK’ also identifies how places themselves can harness the levelling up opportunities […]
Location, location, location
It is now widely recognised that economic productivity is unevenly distributed across the UK and that something needs to be done to ‘level up’ the towns and cities outside the south east of England. Despite once leading Europe on productivity, the average British worker produced 16% less on average than counterparts in other member of […]
Case Study
Seeding an innovation ecosystem in the Belfast City Region
The innovation economy is at the heart of Belfast’s past, present and future.