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The Regional Development Agencies

RDAs spent more than £1bn on innovation from 2005 to 2008 through support for innovation infrastructure and business innovation. The DIUS Annual Innovation Report looks RDAs and innovation in the UK

England?s Regional Development Agencies (RDA s) were launched in 1999, with the London Development Agency following in 2000. Their mission is to spread economic prosperity and opportunity to everyone in the nine regions of England. Since 2002, the RDA s have created over 500,000 jobs and over 56,000 new businesses.

Innovation is recognised as critical to driving business and economic growth, competitiveness and sustainability. RDAs bring together partnerships with the public and private sectors to mobilise activity. They use their strategic influence and investments to mobilise the resources of others to meet shared challenges. Each region also has a business-led Science and Industry Council with leading figures from both the public and private sectors to influence the agenda regionally and nationally.

RDAs will continue to lead and invest in innovation throughout the current economic slowdown to enable regional economies to emerge at the forefront of the economic revival. The RDAs and DIUS have simplified business support products for innovation:

  • Networking for Innovation
  • Innovation Vouchers
  • Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
  • Collaborative Research and Development
  • Grant for Research and Development
  • Innovation Advice and Guidance
  • Designing Demand.

In 2007/8 it is estimated that the RDAs spent over £260m on innovation infrastructure and schemes similar to the seven innovation products. Including expenditure on innovation support from RDA programmes it is estimated that the total RDA spend on innovation has exceeded a cumulative total of £1bn between 2005/6-2008.


The focus for innovation in the West Midlands ?Connect for Success? Strategy is: Transport and Advanced Materials; Energy; Medical & Healthcare Technologies; and Digital Media. Within the Science City programme led jointly by the universities of Birmingham and Warwick, AWM has invested £6m in hydrogen fuel-cell activity and committed £20m in materials development, a further £9m for energy efficient technologies and over £20m for clinical trialling and experimental medicine facilities.

Aligned with the Innovation Platforms, AWM has invested £5m in the final phase of the Premium Automotive R&D programme at Warwick University and committed £30m in Low Carbon Vehicles, £5m in a test facility supporting Intelligent Transport Systems and over £2m in demonstrators for Assisted Living.

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EEDA has invested £4m in Colworth Science Park, a collaborative community with Unilever, and £1m in establishing a regional centre of excellence for engineering at Hethel. In the region?s knowledge sectors, it has invested £6m investment in OrbisEnergy. EEDA?s hub for renewable energy will enable the region to capitalise on its vast natural energy resources and assist businesses to seize opportunities in the sector. EEDA?s £4m investment in EPIC has transformed the studios to position EPIC as a state-of-the-art production and new media centre. EEDA is piloting an Innovation Vouchers scheme and is collaborating with the Technology Strategy Board and the Strategic Health Authority to launch the first regional SBRI programme.

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The East Midlands Innovation Strategy and Action Planis a £20m investment programme to promote and support innovation through partnership and collaboration. It is implemented through a co-ordinated range of products and services that target organisations in four priority sectors: healthcare & bioscience, food & drink, sustainable construction and transport equipment. The aim is to raise innovation performance through:

  • Building networks for knowledge exchange
  • Providing high-quality innovation support
  • Creating an effective environment for innovation
  • Exploiting new technologies.

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The LDA has invested in innovation support, particularly for SMEs, through schemes such as such as Designing Demand and Knowledge Connect and has also provided key knowledge assets for SMEs such as The London Innovation Map and the British Library Business & IP Centre.

In July 2008, Knowledge Connect commenced putting in place region-wide infrastructure that allows SMEs access to the whole knowledge base. The project will provide innovation vouchers to support up to 1,600 businesses to collaborate with the knowledge base. The ATcare Design and Development Centre, funded by the LDA, aims to bridge the gap between research in universities, the NHS, SMEs and the marketplace. Also a new Centre for Low Carbon Technology in Buildings will open in June 2009 through a joint LDA-funded programme.

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Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus is a public- private-academic partnership that is designed to deliver critical mass in science, research and business support. Housing over 70 businesses, the Daresbury Innovation Centre has exceeded all targets and the Campus has achieved £25m of private and £50m of public investment.

The NWDA has played a key role in brokering over £3bn of private-public investment which will provide a shared service environment with state-of-the-art operating systems where media corporations exist alongside independent producers, developing innovative ways of doing business and delivering future content.

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The region has invested significantly in major infrastructure to enable innovation by business in new strengths such as renewable energy and new materials. We have developed and opened major facilities such as the Printable Electronics Technology Centre (PETEC) national prototyping centre (a £20m joint investment), the £12m National Industrial Biotechnology Facility at Wilton Centre and the Extreme Technologies Centre, a £3m investment as part of Newcastle Science City. The region will be taking this work forward with additional support of £135m investment in innovation from the European Regional Development Fund to run from 2007-13. Major investments under development include a National Marine Wind Centre at NaREC and a Low Carbon Vehicles Demonstrator.

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SEEDA has supported a programme of regional collaborative research and development worth around £10m in priority areas for the South East, including intelligent transport systems, as part of the Technology Strategy Board-led National Intelligent Transport Systems and Services Innovation Platforms.

A network of three Science and Innovation Campuses across the South East will enable collaboration between the businesses and strong knowledge base. These are:

  • The existing Harwell Science and Innovation Campus.
  • The Thames Gateway Institute for Sustainability launched in November 2008 with SEEDA investment of £7m.
  • A proposed campus building on the region?s strengths in communication and security technologies.

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SWRDA has increased focus on renewable energy technologies that build on the wind, tidal and wave-energy opportunities in the region. It has invested in the £28m Wave Hub (an off-shore electric ?socket?, generating energy from wave and tidal power forming an international proving ground for energy technologies) and PRIMaRE (the £15m Peninsula Research Institute for Marine Renewable Energy). The South West RDA has also supported the significant aerospace in the region, with over £3m invested in projects aligned to the TSB.

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The Innovation Specialists? Service launches in early 2009; Innovation Vouchers support SMEs working with the knowledge base; Knowledge Transfer Partnerships will double; and Designing Demand supports companies adding value through design. This is all underpinned by the Yorkshire Science & Technology Network and annual Innovation Awards. Grants worth £43m are available to all regional businesses investing in R&D.Other substantial YF co-investments include: the UK?s only Logistics Institute in Hull, the Auto-Identification and Data Capture Centre supporting barcode, biometric and RFID technology nationally from Halifax; and the Advanced Digital Institute promoting emerging technology for electronic companies from Airedale.

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Added the 28 August 2009 in category Innovation UK Vol5-1

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