Newcastle Science City forecast to bring £63million benefit to regional economy

Newcastle Science City’s work to create and support the region’s next generation of high-growth, innovative businesses will potentially have contributed a net economic impact of almost £63million of added value to the regional economy by 2013.

An independent report into the partnership’s work applauds the impact of its business support and business creation, stating the figures represent a ‘very impressive rate of return’ of investment of 53.4 to 1.

The report, carried out by Brightpurpose Consulting, praises the unique approach of the Newcastle Science City’s Innovation Machine model which provides tools and business development to new and existing companies and breeds future entrepreneurs.

The Innovation Machine turns innovation and commercialisation on its head – beginning from insight into a customer need, rather than focusing exclusively on a single product or service. It provides a heavily de-risked environment for talented future entrepreneurs to develop and launch potential high-growth businesses with all of the support and expert advice they need.

The report states that Newcastle Science Company Limited, the company responsible for delivering the Innovation Machine, has: “Started making headway into creating a critical mass of innovation skills and is contributing to creating a culture of innovation in the city (and to a limited extent, the region). Through their business creation and support activity NSCL is removing barriers for individuals to realise their entrepreneurial aspirations, encourage innovation and provide access to expertise and support to develop the necessary skills.”

The evaluation also comments on the ‘overwhelmingly positive’ feedback it’s received about Newcastle Science City staff and the business support they offer is differentiated by two factors: their credibility and expertise around innovation and high-tech sectors and their flexibility when providing support.

“Interestingly feedback from external stakeholders and beneficiaries indicates that Newcastle Science City and its staff are seen as non-bureaucratic and flexible, indicating that they are maintaining a commercial and ‘real world’ approach and shielding others from the bureaucracy and their frustrations with it,” the report states.

 First Friday – a networking event launched by Newcastle Science City in August 2009 to create a business community of individuals interested in innovation, entrepreneurship, science and technology – was singled out in the report as a particular success story. The partnership’s own figures show that the number of attendees has grown on a monthly basis from 20 to 136. In economic terms the event has brought together over 1,500 people from approximately 160 organisations in the region with a combined annual turnover of £2.3billion.

Paul Walker, chair of Newcastle Science City, said: “This report recognises the unique approach the partnership is taking to ensure Newcastle fulfils its potential as a science city and demonstrates the potential economic and social impact of the work Newcastle Science City is delivering.”

The evaluation covers all aspects of Newcastle Science City’s work to promote scientific excellence, create and support innovative businesses and engage the local community to ensure everyone can become part of the city’s continued scientific achievement.

It shows the targets for job creation, business creation and the number of businesses supported have already been met or surpassed – six months ahead of their deadline.

The Newcastle Science City partnership was formed by Newcastle City Council, Newcastle University and One North East after Newcastle was designated as one of six UK science cities in 2005 in recognition of its world-class research being undertaken by its universities and the potential of its science base. The project benefits from European Regional Development Funding (ERDF).

The evaluation is contained in two reports. Both are available to download below