Glasgow City Region hosts Scotland’s First Innovation District

Scotland’s first Innovation District was officially launched at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow on Friday 1st February.

Glasgow City Innovation District is transforming the way academia, business and industry collaborate to bring competitive advantage to Scotland.

The model – which is recognised for improving productivity, creating jobs and attracting inward investment in several cities around the globe – brings together researchers and high-growth firms with technology and creative start-ups, to work side-by-side in vibrant, walkable innovation communities.

Glasgow City Innovation District stretches from George Square to the edge of Glasgow Green and into the east end of the city, and runs from Glasgow Royal Infirmary south to the Clyde. Key sites within the District include the University of Strathclyde’s Technology & Innovation Centre and Inovo buildings, Glasgow City Council’s Tontine Building, and the Garment Factory.

In the past eight years alone, the University and partners have invested more than £100 million in the pioneering Technology & Innovation Centre and neighbouring Inovo building, enabling co-location of businesses and research groups.

To meet demand, plans are now in development for two additional buildings next to the Technology & Innovation Centre to double the space available for co-location of companies and world-class research groups. New clusters of activity in areas central to economic impact have already emerged, including Quantum, Space, 5G Communications, Health Technology, Industrial Informatics and FinTech.

At the same time, significant investment has been made in the creative sectors, including the creation of Tontine – a thriving business accelerator funded by Glasgow City Region City Deal, and Barras Art and Design in the East End.

The area is being transformed further through City Deal funding which will see the development of new transport initiatives, homes, hotels, commercial space and public realm in the Collegelands site adjacent to High Street.

Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of the Glasgow City Region Cabinet, said: “Glasgow’s global reputation as an inventive, pioneering and productive city continues to flourish and the launch of the City Innovation District is a major milestone in our collective ambitions. We have fantastic assets in a highly-skilled workforce, internationally-recognised universities, distinctive and expanding science, technology, engineering and digital sectors, and a capacity for turning innovation into jobs. The Innovation District has excellent national and international connectivity, with proximity to airports, the rail and road network and set within a very attractive and liveable quarter of the city just a short walk from the creativity and vitality of our city centre. Today’s launch is the culmination of solid partnership working, a collaboration which will deliver hi-tech, innovation-driven growth to sustain the city’s economic prosperity for years to come.”

Welcoming the new District, Derek Mackay, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work, said: “I am delighted to launch the Glasgow City Innovation District today. This is an exciting, ambitious project, one that could have significant economic and social impact for Glasgow, the surrounding areas and Scotland. This innovation district has the potential to transform the opportunities for businesses in the area, whilst attracting new investment and boosting Glasgow’s established reputation as a city of innovation, in which the University of Strathclyde plays a key role.”

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, said: “This part of the city is already home to world-leading education, research and innovation, but with Glasgow City Innovation District we are making the city a hotbed for the creation and co-production of new technologies and ideas. The University of Strathclyde is proud to sit at the heart of Glasgow City Innovation District and has a proven successful model of industrial engagement. The District will further accelerate the development of new technologies to help a wide range of sectors, as well informing a new generation of highly-skilled graduates who know what is required to help businesses thrive.”

Cities around the world are increasingly viewing the Innovation District model – with its emphasis on co-location and shared spaces – as an effective way of building the knowledge economy, boosting productivity and regenerating urban areas. The area has already attracted a dense community of innovative organisations, including:

  • Four Catapults – the UK’s world-leading centres designed to transform the UK’s capability for innovation and drive future economic growth – in Offshore Renewable Energy; Transport Systems; Space Applications; and High-Value Manufacturing
  • Three Scottish Funding Council Innovation Centres in Digital Health and Care; Sensor and Imaging Systems; and Industrial Biotechnology
  • The UK headquarters of Europe’s largest contract research organisation, Fraunhofer, plus its Centre for Applied Photonics
  • CMAC – the Centre for Continuous Manufacturing and Crystallisation
  • NPL – the National Physical Laboratory
  • Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre