When it comes to creating new technologies, London is a long way behind other cities in the UK, new research has shown. In fact, the capital comes a mere 25th in the rankings of the UK's most innovative places – behind Liverpool, Tees Valley and Dorset.
The index, by Enterprise Research Centre, ranks Local Enterprise Partnerships in the UK, looking at 14,000 firms producing "cutting edge" technologies. Oxfordshire came top, followed closely by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Behind these are Milton Keynes and South East Midlands (centred on Milton Keynes) and Gloucestershire.
Overall, 45 per cent said they were “innovation active”, but only 18 per cent were actually creating new products.
Tight regulation on London
ERC blamed London's surprisingly low position on the list on its focus on service sectors such as law and finance, which are more tightly regulated and therefore less able to innovate.
Professor Stephen Roper, who led the ERC research:
For the first time, this research gives us a picture of which localities of the UK have the highest proportion of firms introducing new products and services. The findings run counter to the dominant narrative of a country dependent on London, with innovation being much more dispersed across the country than was previously thought.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland lagging
Overall, the results suggest England is by far the most innovative part of the UK, with all other areas having below average levels of innovation.
The places with the lowest levels of innovation were Eastern Scotland, Northern Ireland and Cumbria.
The findings also indicate the popular belief that Manchester is the “powerhouse” of northern England is inaccurate – the Tees Valley was found to have the highest level of innovation in this area.
“Innovation is strongly linked to growth, exporting and productivity – all areas in which the UK economy needs to improve if we want to boost our international competitiveness,” said Roper.
“The significant variation between different parts of the UK suggests that some localities are succeeding in creating a more innovation-friendly environment than others.”