Science and Innovation Audit confirms Portsmouth helps to drive the UK digital economy

Innovation South, a consortium of world-class research and innovation in digital technologies that includes the University of Portsmouth, is the backbone of UK’s digital economy according to a new government sponsored Science and Innovation Audit (SIA).

Stretching from Dorset to Kent and from Berkshire to the Isle of Wight, Innovation South involves more than 100 businesses, universities, and local enterprise partnerships covering eight counties across southern England, with a total economic output of £225.3 billion, accounting for 13.7 per cent of UK’s economic output.

The University is using satellite satellite data to make new products and services commercially available.

The University is using satellite satellite data to make new products and services commercially available.

The audit report released yesterday (21 September) by the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), presented evidence to illustrate that the Innovation South area is at the forefront of advances in digital innovations across a wide range of industrial sectors that can transform and improve our daily lives – from augmented reality devices which help train surgeons doing knee replacements to robotic submarines that are helping to combat global warming; from driverless shuttle buses to some of the fastest growing creative digital communities.

The University of Portsmouth is helping Innovation South to drive the UK’s digital economy with world-class capabilities in digital enabling technologies and turning that research into commercial products. For example:

  • The University’s Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation which has established an international reputation for research in cosmology and astrophysics, playing a leading role in several major astronomical surveys, including the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the Dark Energy Survey. Experts from ICG are applying their expertise in Big Data Analytics and are working with utilities companies to identify inconsistent behaviours in smart meter usage.
  • The University of Portsmouth leads the South Coast Centre of Excellence for Satellite Applications on behalf of regional partners. Experts at the centre will work with industry, particularly small businesses, to ensure they can use satellite data to make new products and services commercially available, for example, developing technology to help robot submarines use live satellite data to inform their route through the ocean – similar to drivers using live traffic updates.
  • A partnership with XIM, a medical devices company, is using smartphones to measure vital signs and provide early warning of health issues to support the NHS ambition to prevent hospital admission.

Sarah Duckering, Director of Research and Innovation Services at University of Portsmouth, said: “We are delighted that this Audit has recognised the University’s research and innovation strengths in Digital Enabling Technologies and their potential influence on business innovation and growth across the region and on the UK economy.

“Portsmouth is ideally suited to support this growth as we have an outstanding track record for turning our world-leading research into commercial products.  The University already hosts the South Coast Regional Centre for Excellence for Satellite Applications and this Audit reflects other University innovation investments, for example our Future Technology Centre and ASTA Technology, the only European Space Agency accredited training centre in the UK.”

Dr Mike Short CBE, Vice President Telefonica, Europe and Chairman of the Innovation South Strategic Steering Group said: “The Science and Innovation Audits are very important to uncover underlying sector strengths in our huge region, and to identify opportunities for better collaboration and sustainable growth across the UK.

“Now that our Audit is complete, our primary focus is on following up with pragmatic steps to progress our partnership and implement the recommendations of the Audit. We are confident that with the great support we have had from Industry, Universities, and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP), we can build on the Audit to maximise opportunities for our region in the future.”

SIA demonstrates that Innovation South stands out in the UK for its expertise across a range of digital enabling technologies, including 5G, Cyber security, Big Data, Photonics and Quantum. The region’s strengths in digital enabling technologies, are commercially applied across four sectors, which include Connected Digital (systems and software development of services and products, including, for example, creative digital media, Smart Cities), Marine and Maritime, Bioscience and Advanced Engineering. The result is a high growth, high value and a highly successful knowledge-based regional economy, with outstanding potential for further innovation and growth – if all assets are successfully integrated.

Innovation South is a national asset, attracting many global corporations to locate their UK and European headquarters. The economic area has the largest share of foreign direct investment projects in the UK, outside of London, with a robust export performance supported by strong links to London and international markets via Channel Tunnel in Kent, Heathrow, Gatwick and Southampton airports, as well as the Port of Southampton. The audit recommends that sustaining the success of Innovation South, and driving its innovation-led productivity even further, is critical to the success of the UK’s digital economy and the nation’s competiveness in global markets.

Business Minister Lord Prior said: “The Science and Innovation Audits we are publishing today highlight the innovative strengths in regions across the UK and the significant growth and investment opportunities they present.

“Together with our record investment of an additional £4.7 billion for research and development to 2020/21, we are working closely with regional businesses and partners to ensure the ambitions set out in these reports are delivered to maintain our status as a science powerhouse.”

Innovation South is one of eight science and innovation audits across the UK. They have been commissioned by BEIS to help inform government’s investment decisions based on established areas of regional strengths that may stimulate productivity economic growth. The SIA report from Innovation South can be downloaded online here –

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