In partnership with the Knowledge Transfer Network, and part-funded by the UK Government and the European Regional Development Fund, The National Centre has been chosen to co-deliver a Smart Specialisation Hub to promote innovation throughout England.

Smart Specialisation is an approach to investment in innovation that helps key local players identify and exploit the sectors in which they can claim to be world-leading.

It allows each region the chance to build on their comparative advantages in skills or industry, and the opportunity to work in collaboration with other localities to drive productivity and innovation. It’s about building diverse specialisms, making more compelling cases for investment and securing better value for money.

Dr Joe Marshall, Chief Operating Officer at The National Centre, has this to say about the project:

“This is a really forward-thinking project, which looks to invest in the future of regions and to commit to the economic sustainability and resilience of the local area.
The Smart Specialisation Hub aims to be a pivotal part of England’s smart specialisation strategy, and we’re excited to be involved.”

The process of Smart Specialisation is already taking place in some areas. For example, in the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, Smart Specialisation has been at the core of their Strategic Economic Plan since it was published in 2013.
The LEP also encourages Smart Specialisation by releasing additional funding for projects that come under its chosen specialisations:

  • Passenger vehicle manufacture
  • Subsea and offshore technology
  • Life sciences and healthcare, and
  • Creative, digital, software and technology-based services

There are existing Smart Specialisation projects already taking place within the region, including Tyne Metropolitan College’s brand new IGNITE Centre.
The IGNITE Centre, which opened in December 2015, provides engineering qualifications to the region, and works with local businesses in order to provide its students with work experience and work-based qualifications via apprenticeships.

One such business is Responsive Engineering, which works in partnership with IGNITE to provide welding apprenticeships.

IGNITE’s partnership with Responsive Engineering shows the ongoing commitment to smart specialisation in the area, concentrating on providing the students with manufacturing skills that can then be developed into a career.

Speaking at IGNITE’s opening in December, the elected Mayor of North Tyneside, Norma Redfearn, had this to say:

“This is a fantastic space and will benefit employers by providing the long term skills that are industry relevant. We can already see a shift in North Tyneside – employers are crying out for specific skills for vacancies they just can’t fill at the minute – IGNITE is part of the bigger picture to provide qualifications that help businesses grow.”

For more information about Smart Specialisation, or if you would like to tell us if you are currently involved in a Smart Specialisation project, you can contact Kim MacLean (Digital Comms Officer, Smart Specialisation Hub) at

Alternatively, you can visit the Smart Specialisation Hub website.