Glasgow City Region is emerging as a new European City Region of Innovation. Kevin Rush, Director of Regional Economic Growth, outlines our three Innovation Districts which are underpinned by City Deal investment from the UK and Scottish governments.

January saw the official opening of the first of three Innovation Districts to be hosted in Glasgow City Region.

A growing phenomena across Europe’s key cities and regions, the innovation district model is actively transforming the way industry, academia and businesses collaborate to deliver innovation and all that this brings with it.

Innovation districts are also an effective way of regenerating urban areas.

Glasgow City Innovation District

The new Glasgow City Innovation District is re-shaping and re-purposing Glasgow’s Merchant City and its surrounding area. Located in the heart of the city centre, it stretches from George Square to the edge of Glasgow Green, towards the east end of the city and south to the Clyde.

In the past eight years alone, the University of Strathclyde and partners have invested more than £100 million in the pioneering Technology & Innovation Centre and the neighbouring Inovo building, enabling co-location of businesses and research groups. In response to demand, plans are now underway for two further buildings.

New clusters of activity are already emerging – Quantum Space, 5G Communications, Health Technology and FinTech. And investment has also been made in the creative sectors with new spaces like Barras Art and Design and the Garment Factory where the new Channel 4 Creative Hub is to be based.

All of this has been integrated with and complemented by significant City Deal funding. Tontine is Glasgow’s first City Deal project – a Merchant City based business accelerator which has already supported 30 new start companies that have delivered a combined increase in turnover of £39.8 million and generated 369 jobs.

City Deal funding is transforming the area physically too with projects underway to improve transport connectivity, deliver new homes, hotels, commercial space and public realm at the adjacent Collegelands, previously a brownfield site.

Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland

The 52 hectare Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS) is a greenfield site located adjacent to Glasgow Airport and next to established businesses such as Rolls Royce and Thermo Fisher.

It’s set to be home to two new, national innovation centres – the £65 million National Manufacturing Institute Scotland and the £56 million Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre.

These will be the catalyst for the development of Scotland’s advanced manufacturing and life sciences sectors, providing support for businesses of all sizes and connecting all of Scotland’s engineering universities and colleges.

This area is underpinned by £200 million of public sector investment, with significant City Deal funding for enabling infrastructure and land development works which will help make all of this possible and better connect local communities to new job opportunities.

The Waterfront and West End Innovation Quarter

Our third district – The Waterfront and West End Innovation Quarter – a corridor running from the University of Glasgow and the West End, down towards the river at the SEC, Pacific Quay and up to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Campus – takes in some fantastic economic assets.

However, in contrast, the area is also home to some deep-rooted deprivation and historical industrial decline, with the river seen as a significant barrier.

The north of the river is characterised by high incomes, employment, and an over-heating property market, and the south by relative deprivation, market failure and large tracts of vacant and derelict land.

City Deal funding of £113 million will improve connectivity, provide a bridge between these two currently distinct communities and unlock the development potential of vacant and derelict sites for jobs and housing.

Already we are seeing the return on this investment, with the announcement the new Barclays campus is to be based in the area, the most significant inward investment ever made in Glasgow. The project is also set to enhance clustering and stimulate growth in the Life Science and Higher Education sectors.

At Glasgow City Region we are effectively using selective City Deal funding coupled with other investment and partnerships as a transformative catalyst for growth. And our three Innovation Districts are setting Glasgow City Region apart as an emerging City Region of Innovation.