Think tank Centre for Cities has published a report – At the frontier: The geography of the UK’s new economy – which maps out the geography of knowledge-intensive sectors and calls for the creation of a £14.5 billion growth package to support innovation districts in Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow.

The report found that the geography of the UK’s new economy is distinctly urban with UK cities home to 59% of all new economy firms. 

It also found that the majority of new economy firms are located in cities within the Greater South East. This means large cities outside of this region, such as Birmingham, Glasgow, and Manchester, are lagging behind.

The report claims that to date, innovation policy has been national in its focus, largely ignoring geography. It has also typically focused on specific sectors, when a broader, more flexible approach would better support the ever-changing new economy and ensure that places offer what dynamic new economy businesses require.

To kickstart the new economy, the Government should create a £14.5 billion growth package spread over ten years to build innovation districts in the centres of Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester.

Andrew Carter, Chief Executive, Centre for Cities said“Supporting the growth of the new economy will be essential to ensuring the UK’s future success and by offering access to skilled workers and knowledge sharing between firms, city centres will have a big part to play in this.

The Government has high ambitions for the UK to be a world leader in innovation but achieving this will rely on a clear plan with substantial funding from Westminster. Investments in skills, regeneration, and infrastructure will all be needed to ensure we can attract leading businesses to cities across the UK and reap the rewards of success.”

GMLEP Board Member Cllr Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council and GMCA Portfolio Lead for Economy and Business, has issued the following response. 

Cllr Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council and GMCA Portfolio Lead for Economy and Business, said: “This report recognises the enormous potential for innovation-led growth in the UK’s regional cities, in Greater Manchester and especially Manchester city centre, as existing clusters of tech and innovation businesses expand and take advantage of a central location.

“Our city-region is already home to pioneering research and facilities, as well as a large pool of talent – match these with the right powers and investment and we can contribute significantly to levelling up and sustainable economic growth.

“Its recommendations echo our call for the Innovation Accelerator to be a catalyst for developing a world-class innovation ecosystem in Manchester and Greater Manchester, in keeping with our vision of economic growth which benefits everyone.”

Cllr. Bev Craig