Skip to content

Power of place crucial to UK’s Covid-19 economic recovery

CaSE has published a new report on how to maximise the local economic impacts of R&D investment and ensure the UK economy rebounds from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Designed to feed into the Government’s ‘levelling up’ and R&D investment agenda, CaSE’s new report ‘The Power of Place’ examines how to maximise the local economic impact of greater R&D intensity across the regions and nations of the UK. 

The report makes a series of recommendations, including

  • Excellence can’t be grown from scratch: Investment should be focussed on R&D excellence that already exists nationwide, whatever its size
  • Brand is important: Regions should clarify their distinctive strengths and develop their pitch for national and overseas investment
  • The best examples of regional R&D growth have been driven by strong civic leaders

Commenting on the new report, CaSE Executive Director Dr Sarah Main said:

“The UK’s outstanding research and innovation capability will generate the new ideas and industries to drive the economic recovery from the impact of Covid-19. R&D investment can have a powerful impact on local economic growth. Government now has the opportunity to meet its own goal of creating a more innovative UK economy whilst also ‘levelling up’ economic opportunity and prosperity across the UK. The messages in the report illustrate how to do that.”

“We have found research strengths across the country and have heard of the importance of investing in kernels of excellence, that building a brand is important for national and international profile, and that a strong partnership between civic and research leaders is essential for maximising the local impacts of R&D investment.”

The launch of the CaSE report is accompanied by the following video from the UK Science Minister, Amanda Solloway MP, welcoming the report.

Investing in regional R&D can play a significant role in reaching the Government’s target of increasing R&D investment to 2.4% of GDP by 2027, and 3% in the long-term. The challenge of encouraging regional economic growth is likely to be even more important as the UK emerges from the other side of the Covid-19 pandemic and looks to rebuild its economy.

The report’s findings are based on views gathered from over 80 contributing organisations through an extensive consultation exercise across the UK, conducted over the last 18 months, including roundtables in Edinburgh, London, the West of England, the West Midlands, and the North East. You can find more about all our place work here.

The full findings from the report are as follows:

Excellence and Branding

  • Brand new regions of excellence can’t just be grown from scratch. Investment should be focussed on R&D excellence that already exists nationwide, whatever its size.
  • Brand is important: Regions need to develop their pitch for national and overseas investment.

Local Leadership

  • Strong leadership is needed from local government, civic groups and the research sector
  • The best examples of regional R&D growth have been driven by strong civic leaders
  • Central and local government need to work together

Support small business

  • SMEs need a helping hand from local and national government to secure academic collaborations
  • A replacement for EU structural funds, that build research capacity and support small and local businesses, needs to be found

The report also highlights regional R&D strengths across the UK, from the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Yorkshire and city deals in Northern Ireland, to the Innovation Centres program in Scotland and the South Wales Compound Semiconductor Cluster.


  1. The Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) is the UK’s leading independent advocate for science and engineering. Our mission is to ensure that the UK has the skills, funding and policies to enable science and engineering to thrive. We represent over 115 scientific organisations including businesses, universities, professional bodies, and research charities as well as individual scientists and engineers. Collectively our members employ over 336,000 people in the UK, and our industry and charity members invest around £32.2bn a year globally in R&D.
  2. All our work on the place agenda, including write-ups from our UK-wide roundtable events, can be found here.
  3. In March 2020 the government announced plans to increase public R&D investment to £22 billion per year by 2024-25, as part of its goal towards investing 2.4% of GDP in R&D by 2027.
  4. CaSE has published a recent report, ‘Building on Scientific Strength; The Next Decade of R&D Investment’, on how the Government can stimulate a rise in the UK’s research intensity and meet the goal of investing 2.4% of GDP in R&D by 2027. 
  5. On Covid-19, Executive Director Dr Sarah Main has written an article for the CaSE website on how the entire research ecosystem must be protected from the effects of the pandemic.

The Power of Place

Read the full report