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Industrial strategy 'needs to look beyond south east of England'

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A report released today (Monday 10 July) by researchers at Sheffield Hallam University questions the focus of the government's industrial strategy.

The report shows that the strategy's narrow sectoral focus targets (at best) only 10 per cent of manufacturing and one per cent of the whole economy.

The report also says that the focus on research and development (R&D) in this range of sectors is initially likely to benefit R&D facilities in affluent parts of southern England, widening divides in regional prosperity.

The new report, from the University’s Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, looks at the location of the sectors earmarked for funding from the government’s new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The Fund has been allocated £1bn through to 2021 – by far the largest share of the new money to support the government’s industrial strategy.

The Fund is focused on six sectors – healthcare and medicine, robotics and artificial intelligence, batteries, self-driving vehicles, materials for the future, and satellites and space technology.

The report shows that many industrial cities, including Bradford, Leicester, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Nottingham, Stoke and Swansea, have few if any jobs in the targeted sectors that can expect to benefit from the new fund.

Britain’s older industrial areas – the places most in need of a successful industrial strategy – also have very few of the R&D facilities that are likely to be first in line for funding.

The report notes that even excluding its famous university, the Cambridge area (population 285,000) has twice as many jobs in scientific R&D establishments as the whole of the Midlands, more than Scotland and Wales combined, and only 2,000 fewer than the whole of the North of England (population 15.2 million). 

Co-author of the report, Professor Steve Fothergill said: “It is Cambridge, Oxfordshire, the Thames Valley, Hertfordshire and London that have most to gain in the first instance from the government’s industrial strategy. 

Industrial strategy map

Click to view the image

“The rest of Britain, and most of British industry, has good reason to be disappointed with what’s on offer. When it comes to financial support for R&D, much of British manufacturing is unlikely to benefit directly from the industrial strategy."

Click here to read the full report.

To arrange interviews with the authors: Contact Tim Ward n the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 2811 or email 


1.    The Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) has a proven reputation for high-profile, authoritative and influential research on regional development, labour markets, welfare reform, cities & neighbourhoods and the voluntary sector.

2.    The new report, Industrial Strategy and the Regions: the shortcomings of a narrow sectoral focus, by Steve Fothergill, Tony Gore and Peter Wells, is the result of independent academic research initiated by CRESR.

3.    The attached map, taken from the report, illustrates the concentration of R&D jobs in places around London.