In the Benchmarking Local Innovation report, published this month by the independent Enterprise Research Centre, which focuses on SME growth and productivity, the South East Midlands was recognised as leading in the UK for its “geography of innovation”.

The report’s findings are based on new analysis of data from the 14,000 firms which responded to the UK Innovation Survey 2013, with firms analysed using the following six benchmarks:

  • Firms engaged in product or service innovation
  • Firms engaged in new to the market innovation
  • Firms engaged in process innovation
  • Firms engaged in strategic or marketing innovation
  • Firms engaged in R&D
  • Firms that were collaborating as part of their innovation activity

The report concluded: “Innovation is important as it both contributes to productivity and provides the basis for business growth through the development of new export market opportunities.

"Research has also linked innovation positively to resilience: innovating firms are more likely to be able to adjust when market conditions become more challenging.”

South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership chief executive Daniel Mouawad said: “Innovation is at the very heart of the South East Midlands and we are rightly proud of our resident businesses which show real resilience and a determination to thrive.”

The South East Midlands is home to 36 Innovation Centres and Science Parks, seven universities and their associated business schools. Cranfield University was crowned "the UKs most business-engaged university” at this year’s National Centre for Universities and Business event.

Other South East Midlands highlights from the Benchmarking Local Innovation report:

  • The South East Midlands was ranked third for its product and service innovation (25%). Oxfordshire LEP ranked 27%, with Gloucestershire 26%.
  • The South East Midlands ranked joint fourth for its process innovation, ranking 14%
  • The South East Midlands was unveiled as joint second for its strategic and marketing innovation (31% compared to Greater Cambridge & Peterborough which ranked a winning 32%). 
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