Why is driving prosperity and growth in the centre of the arc so important?
It’s no secret that Cambridge has led in growing life sciences, with notable acceleration over the past decade. Trailblazing companies, AstraZeneca being one, have relocated to the area and enhanced its growth.
The expansion of Harwell Science Park in Oxfordshire has meant the county is not only making waves in the life sciences sector, but also has a hand in the growth of the space sector.
While well-established clusters in automotive, engineering and fin tech are part of Milton Keynes’ science and technology sector, the centre of the Ox-Cam Arc does not have the same gravitas as Oxford and Cambridge – where investors are clamouring for S&T assets in close proximity to the two world-famous universities.
For the Arc’s spatial strategy to be a success, the huge potential of the central area needs to be realised, with town centres rejuvenated, the creation of new jobs at all levels and homes to meet the needs of the population. The potential of the central area must not be limited by it simply being seen as a feeder for Oxford and Cambridge.
With excellent universities and its own science and technology clusters, the central region of the arc holds opportunities for the UK to take a leading position in science innovation on the global stage. With greater availability of land, more affordable housing, urban centres and good connectivity to the rest of the nation – the central area’s capability to grow and drive investment is exponential.
Clearly this will not happen overnight. The government must put its money where its mouth is on East West Rail, local transport improvements and ambitions for more sustainable rapid mass transport systems within the Arc. Clear commitments that will encourage the private sector to act and help drive forward the vision for the region.
We must also learn from other innovation clusters around the world and spread the growth in the Arc to avoid the inequality created in places like Silicon Valley. The US’s world-famous tech cluster that has become a victim of its own success with soaring house prices and the cost of living crippling workers and reducing access to talent. For Oxford and Cambridge not to follow a similar fate then the central area must play a key role, and become a place that attracts businesses, investment and talent in its own right.
Both our webinar titled Vision for the Arc and our report on the Centre of the Arc discuss the opportunities and limitations of the region. Leading voices and key stakeholders in the Arc have highlighted the opportunities within the centre of the arc, identified existing barriers to growth and recommended how best to drive prosperity in the central region.
Did you miss our Vision for the Arc webinar? Click here to listen to Christopher Pincher MP, Emma Cariaga and Patrick McMahon discuss the region’s capabilities with other leading voices in the Arc.
Download and read our Centre of the Arc paper here.