Business

Forget London, there’s a new “Eastern Powerhouse” emerging

By Oliver Smith 8 March 2016
Cambridge
Summary

From Cambridge University's world-leading research to Britain's brightest star Arm, should we be more focused on this region of innovation?

You’ve heard of Chancellor George Osborne’s mission to boost the “northern powerhouse” with more innovation in cities like Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds.

Now a new buzzword is emerging, the Eastern Powerhouse.

It’s a phrase that covers a stretch of communities and businesses between London’s Old Street Roundabout, Stansted Airport, and the academic hub of Cambridge and its world-leading university.

Britain’s most innovative region

With firms like Britain’s most innovative company, Arm Holdings, Microsoft and Amazon’s UK arms, and world-leading research at the University of Cambridge, which includes synthetic biology that might one day grow the next iPhone.

The Eastern Powerhouse is a region that includes some 303,000 of Britain’s most innovative workers, a number that is growing far more quickly than the national average, but supporters say it has largely been ignored by the Government.

Read more: Cambridge, Britain’s world-leading science hub

“I certainly feel in Cambridge for example, that the Government actually doesn’t have a very clear idea of what there is in Cambridge,” Julian Huppert, former Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge and a lecturer at the University of Cambridge, told The Memo.

“It doesn’t get the recognition it needs to make it even stronger.”

Now the so-called Eastern Powerhouse is calling on the Government to give it that recognition.

Britain’s Silicon Valley?

This morning the London-Stansted-Cambridge Corridor Growth Commission, a new organisation representing businesses and councils in the region called for a new focus on the innovation and technology being developed there.

The group is calling for a multibillion-pound investment into the transport links including expanding the service of Stansted Airport, increasing the rate of housebuilding, and a focus on broadband connectivity of this Eastern Powerhouse.

“This not a competition for internal resources,” Sir Harvey McGrath, former chairman of Man Group and Prudential insurance who is leading the commission, told The Times.

“This is a competition on a global stage and developing what we already have in a strong high-tech and science base.”

If successful McGrath claims the developments could soon put the region between London and Cambridge onto a growth trajectory akin to that of California’s Silicon Valley.