The best way – perhaps the only way – to level up is through local comparative advantage. Not a one-size-fits all approach. But building distinctive local strengths, with a clear and unique proposition for investment.— Tony Danker, Director-General, CBI
As part of its work to establish an Economic Vision for the UK for the decade ahead, the CBI has undertaken research to understand what’s at the heart of urban revival and the business role in levelling up. One of the biggest things it found was just how much a region can gain by building clusters of expertise, investment, and collaboration.
To do successfully, Danker urged an end to “cookie-cutter thinking” and for different regions to be empowered to figure out what works for them.
He cited examples where it already works – for automotive in the West Midlands, for aerospace in the South West, and the Holyhead Hydrogen Hub.
“Many of them are globally competitive, in their own right. And these clusters are some of the most productive parts of the country. Though they make up only 6% of UK employment, they punch well above their weight when it comes to output per worker at about 11% of GVA. It’s a model that builds local momentum.”
Danker described three ingredients that go into a globally-competitive cluster:
- Anchor institutions, whether universities, research centres or keystone businesses
- A rich sector mix, including high-value, exporting industries
- And business leadership – employers who put profits back into places and people, who skill the local workforce, invest in local suppliers and work towards improving the space and environment around them.
Innovation clusters could emerge anywhere. They’re unlikely to emerge everywhere— Professor Greg Clark, Chair, Connected Places Catapult
To coincide with the CBI’s Urban Revival Conference, the Connected Places Ca