Cross-Party Higher Education Commission announces new inquiry into using research funding to drive regional economic prosperity

A new inquiry by the cross-party Higher Education Commission, co-chaired by former Minister for Education and Business, Chris Skidmore MP, and Conservative peer, Lord Norton of Louth, holds its first session on Friday 5th March. The inquiry will look at how university and private sector research can be better used to drive the levelling up of economic prosperity. 

Policy Connect is delighted to announce a heavyweight line-up of Commissioners from universities and industry, local and regional government, alongside parliamentarians, for the Higher Education Commission’s ninth inquiry. 

The inquiry will look at three key aspects of university and industry research and its role in regional economic prosperity through levelling-up all parts of the UK: 

•    Creating the conditions for research and innovation, such as how to increase R&D outputs in less R&D-intensive regions of the UK by building on regional strengths.
•    Increasing the speed at which research can be turned into innovation and commercialised business opportunities.
•    Enabling success and removing barriers to research and commercialisation, such as through new methods of allocating funding.

The Rt. Hon. Chris Skidmore MP, former Minister of State jointly at the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and Lord Norton of Louth, joint chair of the Higher Education Commission, will together chair the inquiry. The inquiry’s academic adviser will be Professor Richard Jones, a leading expert in innovation policy. Commissioners include representatives from universities, business, industry representative organisations, and local and regional government.  All four UK nations will be represented. 

The Higher Education Commission will be holding evidence sessions for the inquiry over the course of the next few months. A written call for evidence will be published, inviting submissions from stakeholders. 

The need to look at this aspect of levelling-up the economy arose in the cross-party Manufacturing Commission’s report Level-Up, published by Policy Connect in February 2020. This recommended that as part of the government’s strategy to tackle regional disparities it should seek to create a long-term innovation network bringing together government agencies, catapults, universities and businesses.

The Higher Education Commission’s inquiry is being sponsored by JISC, UPP, the University of Salford and ACCA Global. 

The Higher Education Commission brings together leading representatives from parliament, the higher education sector, business, local government and public sector. In this inquiry every devolved nation of the UK will be represented, with the goal of producing policies which reflect the cross-national character of the UK. 

The Higher Education Commission is managed by Policy Connect, a cross-party think tank with four main policy pillars; Education and Skills; Industry, Technology& Innovation; Sustainability and Health & Accessibility. Policy Connect specialises in supporting parliamentary groups, forums and commissions for which its team of researchers provide the secretariat and deliver impactful policy research and event programmes. Our collaboration with parliamentarians through these groups allows us to influence public policy in Westminster and Whitehall. We are a social enterprise and are funded by a combination of regular membership subscriptions and time limited sponsorships. We are proud to be a Disability Confident and a London Living Wage employer and also a member of Social Enterprise UK. 

The full list of Commissioners for this inquiry is: