“Innovation was a key theme of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, and it was great to hear that the R&D budget will be protected – £20.bn over 2024 and 2025. However, we would like to see a commitment to a fairer place-based allocation of funding. This is essential if we are to break the cycle of underinvestment in R&D and lower growth in the North. We need a concerted effort by government to address this and allow the region to reach its full potential. The Chancellor spoke about innovation to drive growth and it was encouraging to hear him place so much importance on the UK’s role as a science superpower.
The idea of investment zones which focus on the research strengths of universities in left-behind areas could be a way to generate growth clusters, and it will be interesting to see how the Metro Mayors take on this challenge.
In terms of the levelling up agenda, it would have been nice to see some new announcements instead of confirming the Levelling Up Round 2 Fund. This fund is a short-term sticking plaster, and it lacks strategic direction. If we are to level up the North then we need to see long-term funding cycles, not piecemeal funding pots, so we can start to improve the life chances of people across our region. “
Dr Séamus O’Neill, Chief Executive of the Northern Health Science Alliance.
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