Dr. Susie Mitchell, our programme director, recently participated in the ‘Britain’s Northern Superpower: Building a Greater Glasgow’ conference hosted by the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce. The conference brought together some of the UK’s leading economic thinkers, including former prime minister Gordon Brown, Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken, Lord Sainsbury (former UK Minister for Science and Innovation) and CBI director-general Tony Danker, to explore the potential of Glasgow as a global hub for growth sectors. During the conference, the speakers discussed the possibilities of turning the Greater Glasgow region into an economic superpower.

From beta-blockers and penicillin to ultrasound and the television, Dr. Mitchell noted Glasgow’s remarkable history of discovery and invention. She highlighted Glasgow’s transformative post-industrial renaissance, which has led to the City Region boasting one of the most diverse innovation economies in Europe. Anchoring these developing industries, is one of the largest academic communities outside London with a strong graduate pool fuelling a world-class research base and attracting investment.

She then provided examples of recent public and private investments in the City including the £60m investment in the ‘People Make Glasgow’ Met Tower, which will be designed to scale tech and digital businesses and the City region’s selection as one of three UK pilot areas to host an ‘Innovation Accelerator’ – backed by a share of £100m of UK Government funding. Susie has been involved in the development of the accelerator programme, which will support exceptional projects across a range of sectors. The programme will also result in a new regional plan on innovation, which will look at how to strengthen the regional ecosystem and grow clusters of strength.

Despite the region’s competitive advantage in a range of sectors, Dr. Mitchell emphasized that more needs to be done to unlock its future potential. This included tackling the relatively low levels of venture capital in some growth sectors, having a navigable and inclusive innovation support landscape as well as understanding and addressing current skills gaps and future skills needs. She called for more devolution and decentralized innovation policy and government funding and referenced the Innovation Accelerator programme and the Shared Prosperity Fund as positive steps in the right direction.

Overall, Dr. Mitchell believes there is something really exciting happening in the innovation space across the Glasgow City region but cautioned that our collective ambitions must be underpinned by a bold and intentional plan that involves diverse innovation actors and ensures increased prosperity and inclusive growth – creating opportunity for all.