Glasgow and Edinburgh have been identified as examples of innovation clusters within the UK with a high degree of collaboration.

The two central belt cities were mentioned in a UK government report which has analysed innovation and research and development (R&D) activities across the country.

The findings were contained in the Analytical Report Identifying and describing UK Innovation clusters, published by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT).

The report aims to use regional data on innovation and R&D clusters to provide an ‘interactive mapping tool’ for use by businesses, members of the public and potential investors.

It found that the highest collaborations are between Greater London and Hampshire but singled out Glasgow and Edinburgh as exemplars of “high cross-county collaboration”.

The report said that ‘internal collaboration’ is often strongest where there is a strong university or research base, such as Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester and Edinburgh.

It found geography to be a driver of internal collaboration, adding, “relatively strong relationships between Edinburgh and Glasgow suggest a regional effect”.

The report added that “places tend to cooperate more frequently with partners in their own broad geographic region”.

The report was undertaken to understand how research and innovation can be strengthened across the UK – with place-based effects potentially further driving prosperity, productivity, flows of capital and investor interest.

The report said: “These plans recognise that the UK’s competitive advantage derives from innovative places. The objective of delivering impact across the UK requires support to sustain
and grow innovative places, as well as support to identify and unlock innovation potential in other places. These common themes have led to a strong focus on clusters across technologies and sectors.”

InnoScot Health, the NHS innovation partner in Scotland, welcomed the report’s findings, and argued that strong partnerships forged with academic institutions, funders, entrepreneurs, and industrial partners are vital to the country’s innovation ambitions and prosperity.

Graham Watson, executive chair, InnoScot Health, said: “I believe that what we can learn chiefly from this report is that, while Glasgow and Edinburgh’s strong, mutually beneficial relationship is clear, Scotland should be well-placed to further replicate that success outside of the Central Belt. 

“If proximity and commonality help to engender collaborative trust, economic growth, and fundamentally innovation, then Scotland’s size puts it at a distinct advantage, and we must continue to get better at thinking of ourselves as a small nation but with great opportunity to exploit our vast wellspring of expertise.

“The country’s other two noted innovation clusters, Aberdeen and Dundee, offer their own unique expertise – and of course every Scottish region contributes fantastic cross-sector diversity of a kind that other countries can only dream of.

“Many within the same sectors have similar goals but fail to see collaborative opportunities, despite clear patterns and synergies.”

He added: “The further creation of exciting, globally leading clusters of Scottish innovation is within our grasp if we just join the dots and extend our reach a little further.” 

The report concluded that “understanding patterns in the geography of clusters can unlock valuable insights to more effectively target investments and tailor supportive policies.”

In autumn last year, the British Business Bank (BBB) identified the life sciences industry as the largest sub-sector across Scotland’s four innovation clusters in terms of deal numbers and investment value. 

Edinburgh, and its surrounding areas, was named the leading UK innovation cluster for equity deals outside of London, Oxford, and Cambridge.  

BBB found the region was home to almost 500 equity deals over the last 12 years, amounting to a value of £710 million.

The capital was followed by the Greater Glasgow area, which was host to more than 250 deals during the same period.   

Almost half of transactions in Glasgow and Aberdeen meanwhile involved an academic spinout.

InnoScot Health has been working in partnership with NHS Scotland for over 20 years to support improvements in patient care while stimulating economic wealth.

It has helped to bring many innovators together from different regions and health boards across Scotland to accelerate successful ideas including the SCRAM™ (Structured CRitical Airway Management) portfolio and SARUS-CPR hood.

(DSIT) commissioned a consortium of leading data scientists and economists from Cambridge Econometrics, The Data City and Innovation Caucus to produce the interactive mapping tool of the UK’s RD&I clusters. It can be viewed here.