N8 welcomes plans for 3rd wave of Science & Innovation Audits


The N8 Research Partnership has welcomed the announcement of the third wave of government-commissioned Science and Innovation Audits (SIAs), which has confirmed that the North of England will play a prominent role in the next round of reports.

Four of the SIA reports will be led from the North of England, including the North West Coastal Arc Eco-Innovation Partnership; Northern Powerhouse Chemicals & Processing Science; Northern Powerhouse in Health Research and Applied Digital Technologies.

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson announced the successful 12 regions during the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s (HEFCE) annual conference. Participants will undertake a SIA to map local research, innovation and infrastructure strengths.

Nick Goldspink, project manager of N8, welcomed the announcement as a positive reflection of the North’s capabilities. He said: “The North’s expertise and leadership will again be vital in this round of SIA reports, which will showcase the region’s world-class research and innovation strengths.

“Coupled with the six SIA reports that have already been published, these new audits will further identify new opportunities, attract investment and support regional growth. The N8 Research partnership plays a vital role in driving forward collaboration across the North of England, providing a platform for more open dialogue between academia and industry.”


In his HEFCE speech, Jo Johnson also urged universities to deepen collaborative relationships with businesses, in order to ensure the UK’s innovative strength has a real-world impact.

He said: “Universities have a vital role to play in their local communities and in the national economy. Given the record levels of public investment in R&D, it is essential that universities engage with businesses and communities to make the most of their knowledge and research.”

Earlier this year, findings from the second wave of SIAs highlighted Northern strengths in the Bioeconomy. The audits, which involved a number of N8 universities, also recognised the region’s strengths in offshore renewable energy, medical technologies, materials chemistry, high performance & cognitive computing and infection.

Now in its third wave, the SIA process has already brought together businesses, universities, Local Enterprise Partnerships and the Devolved Administration equivalents to identify the opportunities for inward investment and regional growth.

The reports will explore strengths in a number of sectors and disciplines across the UK, including the marine economy in the Highlands and Islands and applied digital technologies in the North East of England.

The N8 Research Partnership is the collaboration body for the universities of Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, and York. The eight universities form the largest research-pooling partnership in the UK.

Full list of participants of the third wave of the Science and Innovation Audits:

  1. Cyber Resilience Alliance
  2. Maximising the Marine Economy of the Highlands & Islands
  3. North West Nuclear Arc Consortium
  4. North West Coastal Arc Eco-Innovation Partnership
  5. Northern Powerhouse Chemicals & Processing Science
  6. Northern Powerhouse in Health Research
  7. The South Wales Crucible
  8. Upstream Space
  9. Precision Medicine Innovation in Scotland
  10. Applied Digital Technologies
  11. Sustainable Airports
  12. The Knowledge Quarter, London