A Science and Innovation Audit, commissioned by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has highlighted Greater Manchester and Cheshire East’s sectoral strengths in health innovation and advanced materials.

The audit found the region had a high concentration of assets related to health innovation. Key assets include those clustered at Corridor Manchester, such as the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre and Manchester Science Partnership’s Citylabs. The audit also highlighted how the devolution of Greater Manchester’s £6bn health and social care budget could be used to drive innovation to benefit both the region’s health and wider economy. By combining the region’s strength in health with expertise in digital, the report also found Greater Manchester and Cheshire East could become world-leading centres in areas such as clinical trials.

The audit also emphasised the opportunity to develop Greater Manchester as ‘Graphene City’, building on the city-region’s status as the place where the material was first isolated. University of Manchester assets such as the National Graphene Institute will be joined by the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (opening in 2018), which will help translate new discoveries into practical applications, and the Sir Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials (set to be completed in 2019), which will bring together world-leading academics and the private sector to ensure the commercialisation of research.

The report also highlights growth opportunities in digital, energy and industrial biotechnology and explores how creating synergies between these sectors can drive innovation, providing a boost to the local economy.

The audit was undertaken by New Economy and The University of Manchester on behalf of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership. It was one of five regional audits commissioned by BEIS to help local partners map their research and innovation strengths and identify areas of potential global competitive advantage.

Sir Richard Leese, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s lead on economic strategy, said: “I welcome the results of this audit which have highlighted the fundamental contribution that science and research excellence can make to an effective industrial strategy. It is clear that innovation is rooted in a wider ecosystem where skills, finance, informal and formal networks, infrastructure, and leadership all play a part.

“This audit has also recognised the strengths of our infrastructure via the devolution of Greater Manchester’s powers and budgets. It shows a path which the government and the local authorities can take to fully harness this potential.”

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President & Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester, said: “Greater Manchester and East Cheshire are home to a high level of partnership and connectivity, not least in the regions’ core strengths: health innovation and advanced materials. We also have fast-growth opportunities in digital, energy and industrial biotechnology, with a wide range of science and innovation assets. Building on the interconnectivity between these is at the crux of the vision set out in this science and innovation audit. Synergies will accelerate the flow of scientific innovation to the market, boost productivity and potentially develop solutions to national and global challenges.”

Christine Gaskell, Chair of the Cheshire & Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We have been delighted to work with colleagues in Greater Manchester on the Science and Innovation Audit. It has been a really valuable process for us, providing the opportunity to highlight some of the fantastic science assets in our sub-region – underlining the strength of the Cheshire Science Corridor, which has just been awarded Enterprise Zone status and the strength of the science linkages between East Cheshire and Greater Manchester. The audit work will help to inform our future thinking on supporting and developing our key science and innovation assets at Alderley Park and Birchwood, and in the wider Science Corridor, especially how we support the critical role of private sector businesses in driving innovation.”

Mike Blackburn, Chair of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The science and innovation audit carried out in Greater Manchester and East Cheshire has provided a coherent picture of the local innovation strengths and assets. The emerging findings show that there is a well-established science and innovation ecosystem locally, which can support growth and provide solutions to our major societal challenges. But it is crucial to continue to ensure that our strong science base is aligned to the business base, and able to drive science commercialisation and encourage innovation.”

The full report can be downloaded from the University’s Science and Innovation Audit website.