City Region of Innovation

Glasgow City Region is emerging as a new European City Region of Innovation. Kevin Rush, Director of Regional Economic Growth, outlines our three Innovation Districts and explains how they have been centred around City Deal investment.

Last month saw the official opening of the first of three Innovation Districts to be hosted in Glasgow City Region.

A growing phenomena across Europe’s key cities and regions, the Innovation district model is actively transforming the way industry, academia and businesses collaborate to deliver innovation and all that this brings with it.

Innovation, the creation of new ideas and technology, is vital to economic growth. Bringing together the right people and organisations and creating the right environment to support and sustain entrepreneurs, creates a virtuous circle of businesses growth, jobs and competitive advantage – driving inward investment and stimulating further research and development.

Innovation districts are also an effective way of regenerating urban areas.

The new Glasgow City Innovation District is re-shaping and re-purposing Glasgow’s Merchant City and its surrounding area. Located in the heart of the city centre, it stretches from George Square to the edge of Glasgow Green, towards the east end of the city and south to the Clyde. In the past eight years alone, the University of Strathclyde and partners have invested more than £100 million in the pioneering Technology & Innovation Centre and the neighbouring Inovo building, enabling co-location of businesses and research groups. In response to demand, plans are now underway for two further buildings. New clusters of activity are already emerging – Quantum Space, 5G Communications, Health Technology and FinTech. And investment has also been made in the creative sectors with new spaces like Barras Art and Design and the Garment Factory where the new Channel 4 Creative Hub is to be based. 

All of this has been integrated with and complemented by significant City Deal funding. Tontine was Glasgow’s first City Deal project – a business accelerator based in the Merchant City which has already supported 18 new start companies, creating over 230 jobs. City Deal funding is transforming the area physically too with projects underway to improve transport connectivity, deliver new homes, hotels, commercial space and public realm at the adjacent Collegelands, previously a brownfield site.

This month we will be at MIPM – an opportunity to showcase our Innovation Districts, wider ambitions and of course all the compelling reasons for investing in Glasgow City Region. We’ll be promoting investment and development opportunities in the 52 hectare AMIDS site. The Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland is a greenfield site located adjacent to Glasgow Airport and next to established businesses such as Rolls Royce and Thermo Fisher. It’s set to be home to two new, national innovation centres – the £65 million National Manufacturing Institute Scotland and the £56 million Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre. These will be the catalyst for the development of Scotland’s advanced manufacturing and life sciences sectors, providing support for businesses of all sizes and connecting all of Scotland’s engineering universities and colleges. The area is underpinned by £200 million of public sector investment, with significant City Deal funding for enabling infrastructure and land development works which will help make all of this possible and better connect local communities to new job opportunities.

Last month we met with our Government funders to review progress in our City Deal. We also revealed concept designs for a new bridge on the Clyde which will reconnect the West End at Partick to the south of the Clyde at Govan. This forms part of our third district – The Waterfront and West End Innovation Quarter. This area – a corridor running from Glasgow University and the West End, down towards the river at the SECC, Pacific Quay and up to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Campus – takes in some fantastic economic assets. However, the area, in contrast, is also home to some deep-rooted deprivation and historical industrial decline, with the river seen as a significant barrier. The north of the river is characterised by high incomes, employment, and an over-heating property market, and the south by relative deprivation, market failure and large tracts of vacant and derelict land. City Deal funding of £113 million will improve connectivity, provide a bridge between these two currently distinct communities and unlock the development potential of vacant and derelict sites for jobs and housing. Already we are seeing the return on this investment, with the announcement the new Barclays campus is to be based in the area, the most significant inward investment ever made in Glasgow. The project is also set to enhance clustering and stimulate growth in the Life Science and Higher Education sectors.

At Glasgow City Region we are effectively using selective City Deal funding coupled with other investment and partnerships as a transformative catalyst for growth. And our three Innovation Districts are setting Glasgow City Region apart as an emerging City Region of Innovation.