Business clusters in the Oxford-Cambridge Arc region have strongly welcomed the government’s announcement today that it will identify the needs to propel the Arc’s innovation-led economy.

By developing its Spatial Framework Plan, government will bring together the key enablers of sustainable growth to discuss innovation, science and deep technology skills, the commercial property spaces and digital infrastructure that business needs, and the sustainable transport, environment and housing that employees want.

The Arc region spans the five counties of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. In its announcement, the government said it aims to “transform it (the Arc) into one of the world’s premier growth corridors and a world-leader in sustainability”.

Roz Bird, Chair of the Silverstone Technology Cluster and Commercial Director at MEPC Silverstone Park, commented: “The cutting-edge technologies and innovation created in our networks will be key to the UK’s economic success in the coming years.

“The government can be assured that the Arc’s business clusters will come together to contribute to this framework, backing and delivering on a strong economic vision that will create local opportunities that match the growth ambitions of our members.”

South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) Chair, Peter Horrocks OBE, said: “SEMLEP is keen to support a strong business voice in the creation of sustainable growth plans for the Arc. We welcome the Arc’s high tech cluster organisations’ comments on the government’s proposal for an Arc spatial framework. Bringing the world-leading knowledge networks across the Arc together will help to deliver the Arc vision for a premier innovative and sustainable economy.”

Claire Ruskin of Cambridge Network endorsed the capacity for recovery from 2020. “The UK needs to create high value jobs and the Arc is a core region to unblock, so that the good practices seen now in small zones here can be developed and shared with the rest of the country.”

Martin Garratt, CEO of Cambridge Cleantech/Oxfordshire Greentech, enthused: ‘We have world leading innovators and experts in the fields of smart cities, low carbon vehicles and the energy transition, both across the corridor and in the globally renowned centres of excellence in Oxford and Cambridge.

“The sustainable development of the corridor would provide the opportunity for a triple win of creating locally based clean growth sector jobs, showcasing UK cleantech products and services for potential export and helping to tackle the climate crisis.”

Keith Purdie, Commercial Director at Colworth Park, continued: “Colworth Park welcomes the government’s moves to explore solutions to the infrastructure challenges that are central to the success of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.

“Improvements to both physical and digital communications across the corridor will be essential if we are to effectively harness the potential value of the Arc.”

Oxford Innovation, the UK’s largest operator of innovation centres, added: “The Arc’s networks have a critical role to play in helping realise the government’s economic vision.

“By providing nurturing space and support for early stage and scaling innovative businesses, these networks offer the essential collaboration opportunities that underpin innovation-led economies. We are committed to working with our cluster colleagues to bring this vision to reality.”

Inspection of the spatial framework plan document shows government identifying the Arc as being “a national economic priority area”. It also refers to the importance of “identification of specific employment spaces”, as well as “the Arc’s unique innovation and business environment”.

In a statement, Housing Minister Christopher Pincher MP commented: “The Oxford-Cambridge Arc is already home to world-leading economic, cultural and scientific assets.

“We know for instance Cambridge’s rate of patent applications – a key indicator of innovation – is the highest in the United Kingdom, while nearby Milton Keynes is the fastest growing city in the country.

“We want to take this region to the next phase of its renaissance by unlocking its full potential and our plans will drive investment where it is needed and ensure, as growth happens, we create well-designed, inclusive and vibrant places and communities.”

“The OxCam Spatial Framework will allow us to plan positively for growth and we look forward to working with our local partners over the coming months to strengthen our vision and approach to the Arc.”

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Roz Bird