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Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development: Innovation Review

Volume 694: debated on Thursday 26 July 2007

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Competitiveness (Stephen Timms) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

We welcome the announcement that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is to carry out an innovation review of the north of England.

The OECD launched the series reviews of regional innovation to address a demand by national and regional governments for greater clarity on how to strengthen the innovation capacity of regions. These reviews are part of a wider project on competitiveness at the regional level. The north of England is one study in this series. The work builds on the OECD's existing areas of expertise, including territorial reviews of regions (such as the recent territorial review of Newcastle) and reviews of national-level policies.

To be successful, the UK has to continue to build a knowledge-based economy. Encouraging better innovation performance within our regions is pivotal to this end. The Government are committed to improving the economic performance of all UK regions. This regional review of innovation will help develop effective, realistic strategies to raise the rate of sustainable economic growth in the north of England. Greater insight into innovation in the north will directly aid the Northern Way's contribution to regional economic performance.

The review is co-funded by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and the Northern Way. The Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills is also heavily involved, due to its interest in regional innovation systems. In addition to the project sponsors, the OECD will work collaboratively with core partners across the north, including the three regional development agencies (RDAs) and the N8, which is a powerful alliance of northern England's eight research-intensive universities.

Objectives of the Study

The review will examine how innovation can be more effectively harnessed to benefit the northern economy. Through clear recommendations and benchmarking, the review will provide guidance as to how the north can optimally develop its innovation capacity.

The specific aim is to help the north better understand the barriers and opportunities for innovation in the region. The report will look to:

benchmark the north's performance in innovation against other OECD regions;

take forward the debate on key aspects of innovation policy and governance;

establish a framework on which subsequent monitoring and evaluation of policies can be based; and

develop recommendations for national and regional-level actors to improve the regional innovation system.

The review will look at the innovation strategies of each of the three regions individually, and include site visits from international experts. However, it will also look at how common approaches and collaborations across the whole of the north may better capitalise on existing assets for the benefit of the northern economy as a whole. The study will also specifically address whether the north has specific needs vis-a-vis the rest of the UK.

The report will provide recommendations to national, regional and local institutions (in both the public and private sectors) on how to improve the efficacy of the regional innovation system.


A final report on innovation in the north of England is expected to be submitted to the OECD's Territorial Development Policy Committee in June 2008. It is due for publication in autumn 2008.