The Government is breathing new life into a plan to develop the UK’s ‘own Silicon Valley’ based on the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.
A new regional partnership board built around the two universities will act to “champion the region as a world leader in innovation and business”, encouraging overseas investment into the region while achieving environmentally sustainable growth.
Pan-regional partnerships allow local authorities and the Government to co-ordinate over economic and infrastructure strategy in a particular region.
Secretary of state for levelling up, Michael Gove, penned in a letter to the board that the Government is looking to pump £2.5m to the project.
An original Oxford-Cambridge Arc concept, conceived in 2017, was shelved by then Prime Minister Boris Johnson a year ago to prioritise levelling up projects in the north of England.
The strengthened collaboration between Oxford and Cambridge will be aided by a proposed £5bn railway line between the two cities, promised in Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement.
Sunak has also encouraged leaders of life science companies, investors and science park operators to form a new Oxford-Cambridge “supercluster” to work alongside the pan-regional partnership, according to the Financial Times.
>See also: UK seeing exodus of R&D activity
Chair of the shadow board, Cllr Barry Wood, said: “We believe that by working together, the whole Oxford to Cambridge region can be greater than the sum of its parts.
“With official status as a pan-regional partnership backed by government, we can unlock potential and further strengthen our area’s position as a hub of innovation; a globally recognised region of science and technology that delivers prosperity for our communities.
“It will enable us to better achieve inclusive and sustainable outcomes for residents, business and the environment.”
The partnership is recruiting for a permanent chair.