Research and innovation clusters

16 September 2020

The Government has committed to increase investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027 and to ensure that the benefits of this investment are more widely felt across the UK. 

Research and innovation clusters – groups of organisations located in the same place with a shared focus on research and development in a particular field – are often cited as a possible way to achieve this.

This policy briefing explores what we can learn from existing research and innovation clusters when choosing how to invest in R&D. It outlines what clusters are and what factors need to be in place to allow a cluster to emerge by looking at eight examples of research and innovation clusters located in the UK and internationally. 

The briefing highlights that clusters cannot be created from nothing, but can emerge when certain factors are in place. Consequently, policymakers should attend to these factors rather than set out to ‘create a cluster.’

The briefing includes the following case studies:

  • Belfast technology cluster;
  • Cambridge life sciences cluster;
  • Hsinchu technology cluster;
  • Israel technology cluster;
  • Pittsburgh life sciences cluster;
  • San Diego communications cluster,
  • Sheffield advanced manufacturing cluster; and
  • Uppsala life sciences cluster.

Check out this blog article by Professor Richard Jones FRS to find out his thoughts on how research and development spending can be used to increase prosperity in parts of the country that are economically lagging.