Tech innovation index maps industrial clusters in the UK

Tech innovation index maps industrial clusters in the UK

The UK’s Open Data Institute (ODI) and the Digital Catapult have published the UK Tech Innovation Index, showing the UK’s most active innovation communities by industry sector, in an online interactive map. The UK Tech Innovation Index measures both current activity and potential for innovation in seven technology sectors, for 36 UK cities.

The aim of the research is to help gain a clearer picture of the UK innovation landscape, and inform business and public sector decision-making around investment and growth. The index combines data on tech events, conferences and meetups from a range of sources with academic publications, local skills measures, business startup rates, and research and development spending.

Together, these shed new light on where British innovation is flourishing. The rankings show how active the innovation community is in 36 of the largest UK cities, across seven key industrial sectors:

  • Data
  • Manufacturing
  • Artificial intelligence 9AI)
  • Health
  • Internet of things (IoT)
  • Machine learning
  • Virtual reality (VR)

As expected, the rankings show that while here is a large volume of tech industry networking in London (used as a measure to indicate greater innovation), there are highly active hubs across the country, including Edinburgh, Reading, Cardiff and Liverpool. And innovation is aligned with local industries in many places, particularly smaller cities. Aberdeen, with its strong offshore engineering industries, and Coventry and Birmingham with their car industries, are today very strong in manufacturing innovation.

Tom Forth, head of data at ODI Leeds, who led the project, explains how it is different from other innovation research, “Our approach to measuring innovation pioneers new ways of picking out the early signs that industrial clusters are emerging. Our results are largely as expected, with large cities such as London, Manchester, and Glasgow performing strongly in all areas and well-known overachievers such as Edinburgh, Cambridge, and Brighton punching well above their weight.”

“Interestingly, our techniques seem to spot early signs of more focused excellence. In Reading and Liverpool, we see real strength in internet of things. Leeds does very well in health. And in Aberdeen and Coventry, manufacturing is notably strong. There are early signs of other new clusters emerging in other new fields, right across the country. The data behind these rankings is improving all the time, as more tech events are held, and more scientific papers are published. We hope that by sharing our research at this early stage we can learn from others and improve our techniques even more quickly.”

Jeni Tennison, CEO at the Open Data Institute, adds, “Using real-time data to identify clusters should help inform innovation policy, where it’s especially important to respond to how things are, rather than how they were, as well as the behavior of businesses and jobseekers. Developing measures like this in the open also helps to increase our understanding about what drives innovation and which activities create real impact.”

The rankings incorporate data from multiple tech-event calendar sites: meetup, eventbrite and open tech calendar, and from a new system for classifying scientific publications. The algorithm built to create the rankings combines this data with more widely-used measures, such as: the number of startups in a city; nearby research and development spending; and the percentage of people with degree-level or equivalent qualifications. For more details on the methodology, click here.

The ODI was co-founded in 2012 by the inventor of the web Sir Tim Berners-Lee and AI expert Sir Nigel Shadbolt to address today’s global challenges using the web of data. It is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan company that, since its creation, has welcomed high profile board members including founder Baroness Martha Lane Fox and former European Commissioner Neelie Kroes.

This article is based on a blog published by Anne Scott at the ODI.

[Image: Liverpool Science Park]

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