Smart Specialisation

Science & Innovation Audits

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) first announced the Science and Innovation Audits (SIAs) on 16 July 2015 in a speech by the Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson MP. View the objectives of the SIAs here. 

The Science and Innovation Audits are designed to identify and validate areas of potential globally competitive advantage across the UK to help underpin future investment decisions, foster local collaboration and strengthen future bids for local investment.  The process of undertaking an SIA also fosters new and revitalized relationships, leading to fresh collaborations between research, industry and other partners. 

To achieve this, the Government invited consortia of universities, research and innovation organizations, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and their equivalents in the Devolved Administrations, and businesses to work with the Government to map the science and innovation strengths of their areas. 

SIAs involve combining national data sets with a “grass roots” view based on local data, knowledge and experience to examine an area’s strength in science and innovation and relate these to a national and international context.  The data and analysis generated by the SIAs is aligned with the work of the new Smart Specialisation Hub, which has been tasked with building the evidence base and developing a community of best practice around smart specialisation in England. 

The SIA program is made up of 3 waves: 

  1. The 1st five SIA reports were published in November 2016 and are available here.  
  2. The eight reports in the 2nd wave were published in September 2017 and are available here
  3. The 12 consortia who have been selected to complete an SIA in the 3rd wave were announced in a speech in October 2017 by BEIS Science Minister Jo Johnson, at the HEFCE Conference 2017 at the Royal College of Physicians, London.  

To be kept updated on the SIAs please email:

Smart Specialisation Hub - SIA support

If LEPs would like to discuss their Science and Innovation Audit proposal or their wider LEP Innovation Strategy development, please contact Viola Hay at the Smart Specialisation Hub in the first instance:

For more details on what kind of support the Hub can offer, please have a look at their offer to LEPs.




Science & Innovation Audits - update May 2016

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills have circulated an update on the Science and Innovation Audits. The full document can be downloaded here, and covers the following:

  • SIAs Summary 
  • An introduction to Technopolis 
  • A short summary of each of the bids taking part in the first wave. 
  • An introduction to the advisory panel 
  • National Innovation Plan – how to get involved.

Innovate UK

Innovate UK is the UK's innovation agency, working with people, companies and partner organisations to find and drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy.  Innovate UK is an organisation of around 250 staff, drawn mainly from business and they work to:

  • determine which science and technology developments will drive future economic growth
  • meet UK innovators with great ideas in the fields of shared focus
  • fund the strongest opportunities
  • connect innovators with the right partners they need to succeed
  • help innovators launch, build and grow successful businesses 

Since 2007 Innovate UK has:

  • invested over £1.5 billion in innovation, matched by a further £1.5 billion in partner and business funding
  • helped more than 5,000 innovative companies in projects estimated to add £7.5 billion to the UK economy and create 35,000 extra new jobs. 

Innovate UK is currently developing its five-point plan for the years ahead and will publish its new strategy in the autumn.  Meanwhile, if you have any views or comments, you can contact them by email.

Innovate UK Regional Managers

Innovate UK’s primary role is to invest in, build on and to support innovation excellence and economic growth throughout the UK. As part of this, it is keen to strengthen its presence and impact at regional and local level and to develop effective relationships with LEPs, Growth Hubs and with other key local partners.

Innovate UK already has good links with many LEPs and local areas, but is now keen to build further on these. To help with this, Innovate UK has now appointed a team of Interim Regional Managers to cover the UK. In England, these ‘regions’ are essentially based on LEP boundaries. All of the  Regional Managers have been recruited internally, and in most cases they live in or close to the regions that they will be covering. 

The Regional Mangers will act as Innovate UK’s local representative in the area, working to further develop and extend its relationships with LEPs and other key local partners; to raise awareness and understanding of Innovate UK, and to provide a direct channel of communication with each region. They will also undertake a review and consult with LEPs and others as to how Innovate UK should work with and be represented in each region in the longer term.

Further details about the Regional Managers, their role and contact details, together with a map and list of the LEP areas that each will cover can be found here

Investment in LEP areas

Discover where Innovate UK has invested in your LEP area

Innovate UK has a unique perspective on business-led innovation at a local level. Since the innovation agency came into existence in 2007, it has supported innovation projects involving thousands of businesses and researchers all around the UK, through UK-wide competitions for funding.

The growth and trading of established businesses can tell a story of where a local economy is succeeding in existing markets. The Innovate UK project data can build on that knowledge with fresh insights – showing how local economies are evolving to address new markets, and reflecting the network of local and wider collaborations which are enabling businesses to create game-changing innovations.

An interactive map

Innovate UK has created an interactive map of funded projects which gives local and regional breakdowns of projects. It gives easy access to LEPs and to the wider public information about Innovate UK’s investments in more than 7,000 organisations across the UK. To access the map, follow this link and register.

The map shows that Innovate UK’s investment is broadly distributed according to population density. This is not surprising, as it is people’s ambition which initiates and delivers innovation. There are of course variations in the level of geographical investment throughout the UK and it is important to understand what lies behind those differences but overall the map paints an encouraging picture. It shows that there are businesses and collaborators, right across England and the rest of the UK, who are winning Innovate UK competitions and proving they have the exceptional competencies needed to lead the UK in successfully tackling new opportunities.

You can use the Innovation Map to study the investments Innovate UK has made in several ways:

  • by geography – for example by country, LEP, local authority and parliamentary constituency;
  • by demographics - for example by sector or by organisation type (large, medium, small and micro business or academic); or
  • by using a specific organisation name.

Users can zoom in on specific projects and export a copy in PDF or Excel format.

The map is currently in beta format, it is still being tested and further improvements may expected in coming months.

Innovate UK’s hope is that the map will be a useful resource for LEPs and others, contributing to better understand of the geography of innovation across the UK and acting as the starting point for discussions on smart specialisationand comparative advantage.

2016/17 Delivery Plan

Innovate UK invests £561 million to back cutting-edge UK firms

Innovate UK is to invest £561 million in supporting business-led innovation over the next 12 months and take a more focused and efficient approach to supporting innovative UK companies.

Innovate UK’s just-published Delivery Plan for the year 2016 to 2017 includes:

  • a new sector focus that is easier for industry, investors, LEPs and others to understand and work with
  • a 5-point plan to underpin activity across these sectors and drive productivity growth
  • clearer funding programmes that are easier to navigate
  • improvements to the way Innovate UK connects businesses to knowledge and partners
  • a stronger regional presence

Chief Executive Dr Ruth McKernan said:

“To be globally competitive the UK must innovate and grow. Innovation is responsible for 50% of all productivity growth and the mission of Innovate UK is to help make this happen.”

“We will build on our track record of success, focusing ever more closely on scaling up SMEs, equipping them to reap the benefits of the fourth industrial revolution.”

Clearer sector support

Four sector groups have been established within Innovate UK:

  • emerging and enabling technologies
  • health and life sciences
  • infrastructure systems
  • manufacturing and materials

We have also simplified how we run funding competitions for businesses.

There will be 2 broad funding competitions covering each sector group per year, and 2 open competitions for applications from any sector or technology area.

There will be other programmes and competitions in partnership with other government departments and organisations.

High-level goals to drive productivity and growth

The new sector approach will be supported by 5 high-level goals:

  • turning scientific excellence into economic impact
  • accelerating growth by nurturing high-growth-potential SMEs in key sectors
  • building on innovation excellence throughout the UK
  • developing Catapult centres
  • evolving funding models

Since 2007, Innovate UK has invested £1.8 billion in innovation, which has been more than matched by the private sector. This investment has returned between £11.5 billion and £13.1 billion to the economy. We have supported innovation in 7,600 organisations, creating around 55,000 new jobs.

You can download Innovate UK’s Delivery Plan here:

Download the 2016 to 2017 delivery plan

How Innovate UK's work since 2007 is supporting UK economic growth and job creation.

Enterprise Europe Network

The Enterprise Europe Network brings together 600 partner organisations in more than 50 countries to help business innovate, grow and succeed in the European marketplace. 

It’s the world’s largest business support network, but free and simple to use with local contacts and insight across each part of the UK.

The Enterprise Europe Network can help businesses:

From 1 January 2015, the Enterprise Europe Network in England, Wales and Northern Ireland joined up with Innovate UK - the UK’s national innovation agency - to enhance the support already available to business.

Knowledge Transfer Network

The Knowledge Transfer Network is the UK’s innovation network - connecting people to speed up innovation, solve problems and find markets for new ideas.   Established by Innovate UK to build better links between science, creativity and business, the Knowledge Transfer Network has specialist teams covering all significant sectors of the economy, from defence and aerospace to the creative industries, the built environment to biotechnology and robotics. Our expertise in connecting sectors, disciplines and skills with the right collaborations and business approach is what helps unlock the tremendous hidden value in people and companies.


The Catapult centres are a network of world-leading centres designed to transform the UK's capability for innovation in specific areas and help drive future economic growth.

They are a series of physical centres where the very best of the UK's businesses, scientists and engineers work side by side on late-stage research and development - transforming high potential ideas into new products and services to generate economic growth.