Press Office


Response to the Witty review


The North East Local Enterptise Partnership has welcomed the rcommendations of the Witty Review, 'Encouraging a British Invention Revolution' published this week.

Among its findings were that universities need to play a central role in future economic expansion in the UK.

Professor Chris Brink, North East LEP board member and Vice Chancellor of Newcastle University said: “We welcome the findings of Sir Andrew Witty’s report and its recommendations to put universities at the heart of economic growth. One of our core objectives as a civic university is to play an active role in the economic development of our city and region and so it is encouraging to see this report endorsing our philosophy.

“However, we recognise that there is still more the university sector can do to support other partners, particularly the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), to deliver innovation and growth. We need to ensure the region is aligned behind a set of clear priorities which can only be achieved if we agree on our strengths.

“Newcastle University is leading in many of the industrial sectors that Sir Andrew identifies as being  key to sustainable economic growth, namely: life sciences, oil and gas, automotive, agri-tech and big data. We also have research strengths in many of the ‘great technologies’ that are highlighted as being important for innovation in the future. These include: regenerative medicine, synthetic biology and energy storage.

“To capitalise on these strengths we need the university sector to engage with their LEP partners in order to translate academic excellence into economic growth. This is why Newcastle University has seconded two staff members into the North East LEP to help with the Strategic Economic Plan for the region and to collaborate on driving forward some of these growth areas, particularly relating to engineering and biosciences.”

Paul Woolston, chair of the North East LEP, said: “We are extremely fortunate in the North East LEP area to have four strong, outward-looking universities. The role of universities is pivotal to local growth, and we collaborate closely with all four on strategic and innovation-driven work. They were actively involved in the Adonis Economic Review, providing evidence and research which fed into the report’s blueprint for long-term regional strategic growth.

“By working together, the North East LEP and universities are propelling new ideas which will create new businesses and new investment. The Witty Review speaks to the enthusiastic engagement between the education, business and public sectors that defines much of our work. This will grow substantively as we move forward. “

Professor Roy Sandbach, an eminent innovator with an international reputation is leading the North East LEP’s innovation programme, as part of its drive to make this part of the UK an internationally recognised centre for innovation growth. His work is closely allied to that of the universities.

Professor Sandbach said: “The need to turn our leading university inventions into wealth-creating innovation is certainly critical to the nation. And it's clear that the Witty report reflects this need.

“But this only happens If we can effectively match the "what's possible" from our universities with the "what's needed" for businesses to succeed in the global innovation race. The networks and dialogue between universities, Catapults, UKTI and businesses need to be sufficiently powerful and well-structured to drive this.

published on: 16 October 2013