Chancellor announces Oxfordshire will carry out science and innovation audit

Chancellor announces Oxfordshire will carry out science and innovation audit

Oxfordshire has been selected as one of the next regions to conduct a science and innovation audit (SIA) that will help the county understand and build on its strengths in these key areas.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in today's autumn statement that Oxfordshire will be one of eight regions to carry out an SIA.

Designed to map out local research, innovation and infrastructure strengths across the UK, the SIAs are helping to identify and build on the potential of every region across the country by making sure investment is properly targeted and uncovering opportunities for businesses to tap into. Five areas were selected earlier this year in the first wave of the scheme.

The Oxfordshire SIA will be led by the University of Oxford, Oxford Brookes University, the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP), the Oxford Academic Health Sciences Network, the UK Atomic Energy Authority, and the Satellite Applications Catapult. However, the group of partners and collaborators that will gather to conduct the audit will be much larger and will include representatives from industry, local government and academia.

The SIA will focus on four key areas for Oxfordshire: autonomous vehicles, space-led data applications, digital health, and technologies underpinning quantum computing.

Professor Ian Walmsley, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) at the University of Oxford, said: 'Oxfordshire has strength and depth across many different areas of science and innovation, and we have selected a small number of these to focus on for our audit. We hope that this initial exercise, supported by government, will enable us to investigate more scientific disciplines and industry sectors in the future.

'We have chosen four areas of focus that we believe are important for future UK competitiveness, where Oxfordshire has strengths, and where we would like to have greater understanding of local and national networks to help underpin future industry supply chains.

'We look forward to working with government to develop this greater understanding of our strengths in these areas, which will allow us to make sure that businesses and universities in Oxfordshire and across the UK continue to be internationally leading. Oxfordshire has strong partnerships between its higher education institutions, industry and NHS trusts, and we aspire to make them even stronger through this exercise.'

The government-backed SIAs will use big data as a tool for mapping key strengths in science and innovation across the chosen regions. This will help test the potential for these regions to build and develop world-leading ideas, products and technologies that will create jobs, increase UK productivity and drive growth.

Nigel Tipple, Chief Executive of OxLEP, said: 'Oxfordshire's current strengths in science and technology give the region a pivotal role in the UK's drive for economic growth, and on the global stage. Working in collaboration with our SIA delivery partners, this audit will enable us to further enhance our position as a world-leading economy driven by innovation, enterprise and research excellence, boosting both the region and the UK as a whole.'

Dr Rob Buckingham, Head of Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE) at the UK Atomic Energy Authority, which will lead on the autonomous vehicles strand of the SIA, added: 'We have world-class science and technology in Oxfordshire. By working together, we can convert this into solutions that will start to address our local issues, including traffic congestion, as well as attracting inward investment and creating the conditions for new robotics companies to flourish.'

The Chancellor's autumn statement included the following announcement on SIAs: 'Science and Innovation Audits – The government has selected 8 areas for the second wave of Science and Innovation Audits: Bioeconomy of the North of England; East of England; Innovation South; Glasgow Economic Leadership; Leeds City Region; Liverpool City Region +; Offshore Energy Consortium; and Oxfordshire Transformative Technologies.'