Oxfordshire, Cambridge and Peterborough have outperformed London, Manchester and Liverpool to be named the UK’s most innovative Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).
The local bodies, which have significant transport interests through the Local Growth Fund, were ranked in a report from the Enterprise Research Centre (ERC) based on levels of successfully introduced products and services, the launch of ‘new to the market’ products, collaboration, research and development, new marketing or strategic thinking and business process innovation.
The research described an ‘arc of innovation’ stretching from Cambridge through the south east Midlands to Gloucestershire.
Figures were drawn from a poll of over 14,000 firms, charting the level of pioneering business activity between 2010 and 2012.
Oxfordshire LEP reported the most innovative activity, followed closely by Greater Cambridge and Peterborough, the South East Midlands LEP and Gloucestershire.
Tees Valley was named the best performing of the northern local economic areas. Liverpool City Region was ranked 10th on the list, Greater Manchester 20th and London 25th.
Eastern Scotland, Northern Ireland and Cumbria achieved the lowest rankings.
Researchers admitted the level of local innovation would depend on both the type of business activity and the forward-thinking nature of individual firms.
Professor Stephen Roper, who led the ERC research, said: ‘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.
‘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.
‘The significant variation between different parts of the UK suggests that some localities are succeeding in creating a more innovation-friendly environment than others.
‘Policymakers and researchers need to examine the local factors that could be contributing to this so that we can create the conditions for firms to become more innovative — creating jobs and growth - in every corner of the UK.’