The Business Secretary has backed Greater Manchester’s blueprint to boost economic growth and level up the regions through innovation.

Kwasi Kwarteng, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), hailed Innovation Greater Manchester as an example of “how an area can harness its strength to produce something really special”, and said the city-region would be “front and centre” as the Government devises its R&D Place Strategy, which is due to be published later this year.

By focusing on innovation, he added, the city-region is “travelling in exactly the same direction” as the Government, reflecting its plans to raise research and development (R&D) spending nationally to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027.

Kwarteng also acknowledged the strength of Greater Manchester’s existing assets, including its pioneering universities, collaborative and innovative businesses, and strong local leadership.

Developed by business, academia and civic leaders, Innovation Greater Manchester is a blueprint for translational innovation between Greater Manchester and Government to stimulate economic growth and boost R&D investment. It forms a key part of the city-region’s Economic Vision, the plan to deliver a fairer, greener and more productive Greater Manchester economy beyond the pandemic.

The proposals include the creation of an integrated local-national programme to unite all partners involved in Greater Manchester’s innovation ecosystem, a £250m per annum Greater Manchester Innovation Transformation Fund (GM ITF) to help the city-region compete for national and international R&D funding, and a series of new and existing Innovation Zones across the region’s towns and cities.

The plan could generate a £7bn economic benefit and create up to 100,000 jobs, while supporting the Government in achieving its goals of levelling up the North, increasing global trade and reaching Net Zero targets.

Chris Oglesby, Interim Chair of the Innovation Greater Manchester partnership and Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership (GM LEP) board member, said: “It is great to see the Secretary of State backing businesses in the North. The Government’s endorsement of Innovation Greater Manchester is extremely encouraging and provides a welcome step forward for our plans.

“Innovation Greater Manchester is our blueprint for collaborating with Government and other agencies to support the creation of new businesses and high-quality jobs. We are committed to working with Government to direct investment where it can have maximum impact, helping the city-region become an innovation powerhouse while addressing fundamental challenges of levelling up the country, growing international trade, and reducing carbon emissions.”

Elise Wilson, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) economy portfolio lead and GM LEP Deputy Chair, said: “The Secretary of State’s support is a welcome boost for Innovation Greater Manchester.

“An important part of the Innovation Greater Manchester blueprint is ensuring the positive impacts of innovation, like economic growth and more high-quality jobs, benefit all the towns and districts of our city-region. Working with Government, we can achieve our shared aims of revitalising our towns and levelling up the country.”

Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “From the time of the Romans, to cottage industry, through to industrialisation and now to MediaCityUK and the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre, the story of our country’s economic development has been, to a large extent, written in Greater Manchester.

“The Innovation Greater Manchester blueprint shows how an area can harness its strength to produce something really special. I feel confident in Greater Manchester’s ambitions for Net Zero by 2038 and I know that the city-region will have a big role to play in building the UK’s green economy for the future.

“With this region’s extraordinary focus on innovation, you are travelling in exactly the same direction as the Government. We have an aim of raising R&D spending to 2.4 per cent of GDP. That means that we have to have a great deal of investment in your communities and businesses in the next few years. I can assure you that as we develop our R&D Place Strategy, Greater Manchester is very much at the front and centre of our conversations.

“Together, working collaboratively between central government and the regions, we can promote growth, nurture new ideas, and ensure that Greater Manchester keeps its central role in writing the economic story of our great country.”