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South of England revealed as the backbone of UK’s digital economy, according to Government sponsored Science and Innovation Audit (SIA)

21st September 2017

Southampton Solent University is pleased to have contributed to a government sponsored Science and Innovation Audit (SIA) that has revealed that the South of England – the Innovation South area - is the backbone of the UK’s digital economy.

The audit report released by the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), presented evidence to illustrate that the Innovation South area is at the forefront of advances in digital innovations across a wide range of industrial sectors that can transform and improve our daily lives – from augmented reality devices which help train surgeons doing knee replacements to robotic submarines that are helping to combat global warming.

SIA demonstrates that Innovation South stands out in the UK for its expertise across a range of digital enabling technologies -including 5G, Cyber security, Big Data, Photonics and Quantum –that are commercially applied across four sectors -  Connected Digital, Marine and Maritime, Bioscience and Advanced Engineering. The result is a high growth, high value and a highly successful knowledge-based regional economy, with outstanding potential for further innovation and growth - if all assets are successfully integrated.

Catherine Lee, Director of Research and Innovation at Southampton Solent headed up the team that submitted the University’s evidence to the audit. She says: “Our focus on digital creativity means that we are well placed to translate research, ideas and creativity into innovation.

“Solent’s entrepreneurial staff and students work with businesses to commercialise research and develop innovative solutions on a daily basis.”

An example of the University’s cutting edge research is the autonomous ship engineering project, IMAGINE (Innovation in Marine Engineering Diagnostics and Feedback), which investigates the use of virtual reality in marine engine rooms. Solent and Rolls-Royce are undertaking this project to support the unmanned and partially autonomous operation of marine vessels with a focus on enabling engineering crews to work at a remote location.

Other innovative digital projects at the University include the use of virtual reality in maritime training and the effects of virtual reality in gaming on stress levels.

Dr Mike Short CBE, Vice President Telefonica, Europe and Chairman of the Innovation South Strategic Steering Group says:  "The Science & Innovation Audits are very important to uncover underlying sector strengths in our huge region, and to identify opportunities for better collaboration and sustainable growth across the UK.”

Catherine added: “The Innovation South consortium is an exciting opportunity to develop partnerships which can maximise our region’s world class industrial and scientific strengths across a range of digital enabling technologies.”

Commenting on the publication of the reports, Business Minister Lord Prior said: “The Science and Innovation Audits we are publishing today highlight the innovative strengths in regions across the UK and the significant growth and investment opportunities they present.

“Together with our record investment of an additional £4.7 billion for research and development to 2020/21, we are working closely with regional businesses and partners to ensure the ambitions set out in these reports are delivered to maintain our status as a science powerhouse.”

Innovation South is one of eight science and innovation audits across the UK. They have been commissioned by BEIS to help inform government’s investment decisions based on established areas of regional strengths that may stimulate productivity economic growth. The SIA report from Innovation South can be downloaded online here


About Innovation South Consortium

The Science and Innovation Audit for Innovation South was conducted by an Enterprise M3-led consortium of more than 100 organisations including six Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP), 16 Universities, 17 research institutes, nine local authorities, three inward investment organisations, two local area partnerships and a wide array of businesses located within the region. The audit was carried out over a four month period, under the guidance of a Strategic Steering Group Chaired by Dr Mike Short CBE, Vice President Telefonica, Europe, and Chairman of Enterprise M3 LEP Board.  

Innovation South covers eight counties across southern England, with a total economic output of £225.3 billion, accounting for 13.7% of UK’s economic output.