By Prof Tim Vorley & Prof Andrew Simpson
Announcements today from the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP (Secretary of State for Business, Environment and Industrial Strategy) about a new wave of Science and Innovation Audits (SIAs) as a basis for forging the vision for devolved economic growth in the UK.
He highlighted the importance of ‘locally directed collaborative working’ as critical for economic growth and competitiveness. Undoubtedly the remarks serve to emphasise the continuing importance of the Northern Powerhouse which, if it were a country, would already be the 10th largest in Europe.
The Sheffield City Region (SCR) was one of the UK’s first Science and Innovation Audit sites. Focusing on the Advanced Manufacturing Corridor (AM Corridor), the emphasis on high-value manufacturing is highly likely to prove a cornerstone of the emerging Industrial Strategy. Moreover, with the AM Corridor comprising a consortium of key partners across the SCR LEP and Lancashire LEP, led by the University of Sheffield and Lancaster University, it transects the Northern Powerhouse. In keeping with the comments of the Secretary of State, this means that the local innovation strengths of the SCR will see it strive on a global stage.
The findings of the SIA highlight the comparative strengths of Sheffield as a centre of advanced and high-value manufacturing, a sector that has been emphasised as a priority growth area. Regional strengths in nuclear research will also grow further under the ‘nuclear innovation programme’ announced by the Secretary of State, in which the SCR is already an important part of the national innovation system.
The findings of the SIA and announcement about the nuclear innovation programme are striking, and will have implications for what and how the SCR LEP will deliver to increase productivity and profitability of high-value manufacturers in the region. As a leading research school and provider of management education, Sheffield University Management School has a key role to play in helping deliver the vision set out in the SIA to ensure that the SCR and the UK remains an innovation leader.
For our part, the Management School is already pioneering new courses to support advanced and high-value manufacturing with a new EMBA programme. This is the UK’s first specialist manufacturing EMBA tailored for manufacturers of all sizes and sectors to drive change that translates into prosperity and economic growth. We are also committed to working with the Growth Hub at the SCR LEP to develop higher level management and leadership skills for SMEs in the manufacturing sector and more widely.
Beyond our role in developing skills, as a research-led management school colleagues continue to be engaged in a broad range of research and impact activities. The research and engagement of colleagues has already helped many business grow in an environmentally and socially-responsible way. Building on our strong tradition of working with businesses, we are committed to supporting the productivity and profitability of businesses. While much emphasis in the SIA is about the technological skills and capabilities, this is not to detract from the value of knowledge and insights of our research into business models, supply chains, organisational design, leadership and finance.
At what is a critical time for the SCR and the UK economy more generally, and in keeping with our mission and vision, Sheffield University Management School remains committed to supporting innovation and stimulate growth.
Prof Tim Vorley is attending Innovate 2016 (Manchester) with the Innovation Caucus for ESRC and Innovate UK.