The Iain Gray column
Iain gives us an insight into a day visiting companies in the Northeast, giving an example of the breadth of the innovation and research going on in the UK and showing how it can be the driver of growth, as Lord Heseltine recently pointed out in his industrial review
Lord Heseltine’s emphasis on ‘localism,’ clear when he launched his review of growth opportunities at Birmingham City Hall this month, brought to mind just how much I enjoy meeting the organisations that we work with around the UK – and hearing about the progress that they are making, with a little bit of help from us.
I thought I’d give you an example of one of my days this month, ‘out and about’. This isn’t every day – but is pretty typical of the scheduling in my diary.
Visiting Newcastle upon Tyne
First off I visited Narec (National Renewable Energy Centre) facilities at Blyth and toured their new Blade Test, Fujin and Nautilus test facilities. An impressive piece of civil engineering work in its own right, with some interesting ‘gee-whizz’ statistics. For instance constructing Fujin had required 1,700 cubic m of concrete pouring – that’s the same as the amount of water in an Olympic sized swimming pool!
Next was Newcastle Science City where we learned more about the three themes of their strategy – ageing, sustainability and stem cell/regenerative medicine. They are closely involved in our upcoming N8 Innovation Forum discussions around independent living with companies in the Institute including Grey Matter, LimbsAlive (gaming software as a rehabilitation tool), AgeInclusive and Diagonal Alternatives.
As an organisation we are very lucky to to see such a breadth of activities, going from civil engineering to ageing in one day (some might say this sometimes ages me!) This was topped off later on by an invigorating discussion with QuantuMDX who had just heard that they’d been successful in the Late Stage Awards of Round 1 of our Biomedical Catalyst – complete happenstance as I’d had this meeting in the diary for a while.
Needless to say the team was very excited by the news and it was a very satisfying end to a long but rewarding day.
And back at the office..
I mention the Biomedical Catalyst. This month I had the huge privilege of congratulating 32 projects (all led by SMEs and Universities) who had won a share of £39 million of funding from the Biomedical Catalyst – designed to deliver effective support for the best life science opportunities arising in the UK and enabling businesses and academics to speed-up the translation of scientific ideas into commercial propositions, for the greater benefit of patients.
Again these projects are dispersed across the UK and I shall get tremendous satisfaction and pride from visiting them and listening to their stories, as they progress with their life-changing solutions.
The Technology Strategy Board can indeed say that, in the words of Lord Heseltine’s review, it leaves no stone unturned in the pursuit of growth and we will continue to do so. And a great showcase for this will be at the Innovate UK event in early March 2013. Innovate UK is a massive opportunity for businesses to listen and learn with the best of the UK’s innovators. If you would like to be involved in the Technology Strategy Board and UKTI’s first joint trade and innovation expo, be part of the conversation at _connect