Cities and universities team up on plan for economic recovery

City leaders and vice-chancellors ask ministers to support “enormous potential to generate innovation-led economic growth”

Eleven UK cities and their universities have shared a national economic recovery plan with the government.

The Core Cities alliance – Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield – and 24 of its higher education institutes, have published a joint statement today [2 November] asking government ministers to work with them to boost research and development spend, create jobs and “help to level up the UK’s nations and regions”.

The proposals put forward by city leaders and vice-chancellors in their declaration include:

  • the establishment of new City Innovation Partnerships (CIPs)
  • the introduction of a Cities Trade Package
  • a new UK Urban Trade and Investment Strategy to help reposition the UK internationally

Leader of Leeds City Council Judith Blake, chair of Core Cities UK, which supports greater devolution to cities, delivers 26 per cent of the UK economy and plays host to almost 40 per cent of all UK university students, said: “This is a very challenging time for both universities and our cities, but we must start to plan for a better future.

“Our core cities and their universities each have distinct industrial and research strengths. They also have enormous potential to generate innovation-led economic growth to benefit the towns and communities in their wider regions. But we need government to work with us to realise that potential.

“In what I hope will be the start of a productive dialogue with government, this joint-statement sets out how they can collaborate with local on-the-ground expertise to drive national post-COVID recovery, rebalance R&D investment, and level up the economy.

“As the UK continues to explore new global markets and opportunities post-Brexit, we also want to take advantage of our cities’ and institutions’ growing reputation as major hubs for innovation and research excellence.

“We invite ministers to consider our proposals carefully and meet with us to discuss a way forward.”

Professor Guy Orpen, University of Bristol deputy vice-chancellor, said: “This joint declaration sets out how government can harness the combined power of universities, local councils and the local and global businesses within their city-regions to renew and level up the wider economy.

“Our cities and universities have a long and very successful history of working together on everything from globally successful spin-out companies to hospitals and science parks. Following the national response to COVID-19, these partnerships are stronger than ever. Government now has a clear opportunity to build on this success and empower our cities and universities to play their full part in the delivering the post-COVID Global Britain agenda.”

The declaration has been signed by:

  • Aston University
  • Birmingham City University
  • Cardiff University
  • Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Heseltine Institute for Public Policy, Practice and Place
  • Leeds Beckett University
  • Leeds Trinity University
  • Liverpool John Moore’s University
  • Liverpool Hope University
  • Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Northumbria University
  • Queens University Belfast
  • Sheffield Hallam University
  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Manchester
  • Newcastle University
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of Strathclyde
  • University of the West of England
  • Universities for Nottingham (Nottingham Trent University & University of Nottingham)

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