Sir Andrew Witty published his 2013 Review of Universities and Growth, ‘Encouraging a British Invention Revolution’.

He put forth the view that whilst the kind of impactful university-business collaborations he wanted to see were happening in the UK, they were not happening consistently or strategically across the country.

Almost three years on, this remains the case, if perhaps to a lesser extent.

In developing the Smart Specialisation Hub at the National Centre, in partnership with the Knowledge Transfer Network, we recognise the importance of identifying and disseminating best practice – indeed it’s one of our core missions.

Lessons learned, tried and tested methodologies and coherent strategies that can be consistently applied can help to uplift local innovators across the country.

Over the course of the next month, we’ll be sharing some case studies from local areas and actors on the Smart Specialisation Hub website.

Each of these will reflect the thinking of innovators and decision-makers at several stages of their process. This could be anything:

• developing a Smart Specialisation strategy,
• seeking to align projects and investments, or
• simply doing some early-stage thinking on mapping their strengths.

Emergent thinking from these studies should be of interest to place-makers and place-shapers across England.
University-business collaboration is at the core of Smart Specialisation approaches. Indeed, the bottom-up discovery process that defines Smart Specialisation is driven by such collaborations.

In pulling together case studies, we want to shine a light on instances of great co-operation, thought leadership and evidence-based strategy development.

In each instance, key players have made a decision to take a strategic approach to innovation investment, business-university collaboration or project alignment, and in some cases are already reaping the benefits.
Whether explicit Smart Specialisation methodologies and approaches have been applied or not, the underpinning rationale remains the same – considered, evidence-based prioritisation.

These case studies represent a small cross-section of the interesting developments across the country in place-based innovation, and any attempt to capture these exhaustively would be doomed to failure.

Accordingly, we will be sharing more examples of this nature in our forthcoming Annual Report on Smart Specialisation in England, which we plan to publish before the end of the year.

We will also continue to host articles on these developments beyond the end of September.

If you would like any further information on the case studies we’ll be presenting here, please get in touch – we’d be delighted to facilitate an exchange with the authors.

If you have an interesting study or exemplar which might be of interest which you are willing to share across the Smart Specialisation Hub’s platforms, please let us know.

For more information and to get up to speed on Smart Specialisation, you can read our “Smart Spec 101” series here.