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Innovation: Private Sector Investment

Volume 701: debated on Tuesday 21 September 2021

It is very good to be back as the newly appointed Minister for Science, Research and Innovation. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Ben Bradley) for his tireless work on levelling up and the importance of innovation in supporting left-behind communities. Science and innovation are not the same thing. We are committed to being both a science superpower and an innovation nation, and that is why I am looking hard at what we can do, through the business innovation forum, the Advanced Research and Invention Agency, Innovate UK and UKRI, to drive levelling up.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer and welcome him back to his new position—congratulations. There is an oven-ready package available in the east midlands, with key projects set to boost private investment in the region. The Government’s backing for those projects this autumn is vital. Can my hon. Friend confirm that the Government are supportive of our plans for an east midlands freeport, our development corporation and the importance of Toton in the integrated rail plan? Does he agree that this is a huge opportunity to attract private investment into a region that traditionally is at the bottom of the table for attracting that kind of money?

In a word, yes. My hon. Friend makes a powerful case. Freeports and regeneration corporations are vital to our innovation strategy. Not only are we determined that there will be funding for the golden triangle, but we want to harness science and regeneration to drive growth around the country.