Recent research carried out by the University of Cumbria’s Centre for Regional Development (CRED) highlights a need for more innovation in business in the county. However, it also identified that in those areas where innovation and development were already taking place, it is of high quality.
This timely Cumbrian research is echoed in a national report issued last week by the government Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)*.
The research was commissioned by Cognitive Cumbria, a working group formed to lead dialogue and debate, and inform innovation strategy at a county level. Partners in the group include the University of Cumbria, the University of Manchester, the National Nuclear Laboratory, Innovus, Fusion Go and the Centre for Leadership Performance.
The research director of CRED, Professor Frank Peck, explains:
“We face a dilemma in trying to understand business innovation in Cumbria. Whilst recognising the presence of many world-leading businesses and innovative SMEs that operate in the county, measuring criteria such as research and development expenditures, for instance, places it low in national rankings.
“We could conclude that while there are innovative businesses in the county, there are not enough of them… perhaps it is just not as widespread as might be hoped. There is clearly more work to do to improve our understanding of the characteristics of business innovation in Cumbria.”
John Berry development manager at the University of Cumbria and chair of Cognitive Cumbria, comments:
“Cognitive Cumbria commissioned CRED to produce this report to establish a baseline; to identify how much research and development was already taking place in Cumbria and what scope there is for future growth.
“The recent national findings published by BIS lend strength to the argument that whilst considerable advances are no doubt taking place in product and process development, accurate data is not easy to collate and measure. There is a real challenge around defining innovation, particularly in smaller businesses, and then recording this as innovation activity.
“With the publication of this benchmark document, we will now be able to continue to monitor the situation and raise awareness of the innovation already happening in Cumbria as well as new developments and opportunities on offer.”
*The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) UK innovation survey 2015 can be accessed online here.