The pace of change in technology continues to escalate with innovative and exciting possibilities coming forward nearly every day.
Today is another one of those days as I read with interest a recent Industrial Strategy blog post about, ‘Hyperloop’, a super-speed ground-based transportation system. I won’t attempt to explain how this works here, as they have a very handy video in the blog that does a much better job than I could so, take a look.
But looking at the potential this technology has comes at a prudent time as we’re focusing in on the details about how we are to improve East-West connectivity across the Oxford-Milton Keynes- Cambridge Growth Corridor. Looking to the future possibilities is not only important, it’s essential.
The collective vision that will drive the development of the growth corridor area is high on the national agenda. With the right investment, the Corridor has the potential to add an extra £163bn to the UK economy, 1.1m jobs and with it, 1million new homes. The Corridor’s global success is rooted in the innovation and business technological capabilities we have in the area in high-value, high growth industries that are developing solutions for the world. Not only for the one we live in today, but in shaping what it will look like in 50, 100 years to come.
Realising the Growth Corridor potential is in the national interest. Government has already committed investment into transport infrastructure – Expressway and Rail – as a direct intervention to help unlock some of this growth potential.
The Central Area of the corridor arguably has the most to gain from transport and connectivity investment if we do it right and, if we do it well. We have the expertise, the innovation and capabilities to do it both right and well and we’re moving in the right direction. Milton Keynes-based Transport Systems Catapult has recently announced their innovation partnerships with England’s Economic Heartland, our wider area’s strategic transport alliance and with Cranfield University based in Central Bedfordshire, renowned for its expertise in transport innovation- connected and autonomous vehicles, airspace and low carbon technologies.
The South East Midlands LEP area, at the centre of the Growth Corridor is well-known as the test-bed of new and emerging technologies with global leaders in technical and powertrain testing. This stems from our deep and rich heritage in engineering and motorsport. We have significant clusters of high-tech and high-value businesses that dominate in next generation vehicle technologies, engineering and digital technologies. These assets position us well as the place to explore new approaches to the way we plan and build our living spaces, commercial properties, transport, digital and energy infrastructure.
But it’s the combination of these technologies and capabilities of these clusters that make this area the success that it is and will shape what it will become.
SEMLEP and our neighbouring LEPs are developing Local Industrial Strategies that focus on our area’s unique global industry strengths and capabilities. Crucially they recognise the potential and value that our clusters can create when they work cooperatively and collaboratively together. Here I think specifically of the Volante vision concept, a ‘flying car’ made possible by the partnership of the best of British research, design and development and engineering – Cranfield, Aston Martin and Rolls Royce. And closer to the ground, MK:Smart, a collaborative R and D programme to prototype solutions to address challenges of modern city living.
Indeed the prototype Hyperloop ‘pod’, created by individuals who have set up Continuum Industries, the UK’s first company to develop the hyperloop technology, was made possible by drawing from the expertise of a number of different partners each bringing their skills and expertise.
Global success requires close cooperation and collaboration, and investment from businesses, government, Local Enterprise Partnerships, academia and civic leadership. What that brings is very exciting. SEMLEP has just closed a bidding round for capital investment through our Local Growth Fund and, whilst we’re not in any position to make announcements, we’re delighted with the range of exceptional innovative projects submitted by some of the incredibly forward-thinking businesses we have in our area.
I’d be delighted if you would come and talk to us about this as what the future could bring is exciting. The Growth Corridor partners will be exhibiting at this year’s MIPIM UK 2018, Olympia on 17 and 18 October. We have a jam-packed programme of events that cover so do come and talk to us about the possibilities we can achieve together.
Chief Executive, SEMLEP