pins in clusters on wall map

New rankings show UK’s most innovative tech clusters

Wed Jun 6, 2018
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A new UK Tech Innovation Index shows the most active innovation communities in the UK by innovation categories, captured in an interactive map.

A new UK Tech Innovation Index, published by The Data City, shows the most active innovation communities in the UK by innovation categories, captured in an interactive map.

The index goes beyond standard predetermined geographies, enabling it to reveal previously unseen vital business and academic links across cities and county boundaries, and demonstrating that innovation communities are often made up of groups of cities or urban areas.

The top 10 overall clusters across all sectors are shown below, including the percentage of activity across the UK, based on all relevant events, businesses and papers identified in the index.

Top 10 overall clusters across all sectors

Rank  

Cluster

Region(s)

Percentage of total activity*

1

London, Luton Greater London, East 21.5%
2 Birmingham, Coventry West Midlands 7.3%
3 Manchester, Stoke, Burnley North West, West Midlands 6.4%
4 Reading, Aldershot, Slough South East 5.0%
5 Bristol, Cardiff, Newport South West, Wales 5.0%
6 Oxford, Northampton, Milton Keynes South East 4.7%
7 Leicester, Nottingham East Midlands 4.7%
8 Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford, Barnsley, Huddersfield, Wakefield Yorkshire and the Humber 4.7%
9 Romford, Dartford Greater London, South East 4.0%
10 Edinburgh, Dundee Scotland 3.9%

*total activity is based on all relevant events, businesses and papers identified in the index

This new index has also been developed using not just business activity, but the influence, specialisms and location of universities and other academic institutions, and the concentration of events and networking opportunities in an area.

It uses machine learning to classify millions of data points that capture sector-specific functional clusters, showing the true picture of innovation in the UK today. It will be updated every month as new data is collected. The results of the analysis are published as open data for others to reuse, providing the most open and useful record yet of innovation communities.

The index is published by The Data City, with support from the Open Data Institute (ODI). The project is part of the ODI’s innovation programme, a three-year, £6m programme to support and build upon the UK’s strengths in data and data analytics, funded by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.

The open data from the first UK Tech Innovation Index, published in July 2017, was used in an independent review on how the Artificial Intelligence industry can be grown in the UK. The UK Tech Innovation Index 2.0 builds and improves upon its predecessor, using new methods for data collection and clustering, to gain a clearer and more accurate picture of where the UK innovation landscape is flourishing.

The first index ranked 36 UK cities by their innovation performance and potential in niches of technology using data about businesses, events and scientific publication records.

This second index uses more data sources and machine learning to produce more accurate results, and focuses on five sectors that mirror the innovation priorities of UK government and categories in its Industrial Strategy – AI and Data, Clean Growth, Smart Cities and Mobility, Ageing Society, and Advanced Manufacturing.

The data shows different geographical clusters for each of the sectors. London comes top in the overall score and in all the categories. However the distribution of other clusters, including many of the top 10 for each category, covers the majority of the population of the UK.

Tom Forth, Co-founder and Head of Data at The Data City, who led the project, explains how it is different from other pieces of innovation research: “With this index, we are providing an evidence base for better-informed decisions within the UK government and beyond, and are sharing many of our methods and documenting the datasets we use so that others can benefit from them.

“Our new approach covers more of the UK, and by using many times more data points we have found and measured more clusters of innovation, and more of them away from cities. With millions of rows of data, and thousands more rows being added every week, we no longer classify businesses and events by hand, we use machine-learning techniques instead. We are also explaining what would be possible if more data were available to us in the future, in the hope that it will be.”

“We believe this information will help private investors looking to invest in companies, existing businesses looking to expand, national government departments looking to assign investment and local and regional governments looking to assign funding locally or make a case for inward investment to their regions.”

Jeni Tennison, ODI CEO, said: “This new index gives a bird’s eye view of innovation networks across the UK in 2018, providing not only an interactive online tool but regularly updated open datasets that others can use and explore.

“The index can be used to inform policy makers, investors and businesses about innovation across the UK, showing where there are active tech communities in different sectors, and where there are gaps. It also demonstrates how new sources of data can be brought together to cast a different light on innovation in the UK. By making the methodology and data open, we hope others can build on this work.”

Background

Full details of the methodology and the sources used can be found here.

Improvements have been made in five key areas:

  1.  The classification of businesses into industrial subsections using machine-learning to classify companies from their websites. (instead of SIC codes which do not accurately represent large companies that span industrial sectors or technology companies who change focus frequently)
  2.  The inclusion of many more scientific papers and events (MeetUp, Eventbrite, Open Tech Calendar) as well as scraping data from across websites and social media feeds (more needed on this). Scientific papers data (Microsoft Academic Knowledge)
  3.  Moving from the focus on cities to clusters of industries.  Considering the precise location of each business, event, university and the links between them rather than classifying by LEP or city region and using clustering algorithms to create new geographies, where a cluster can involve several towns and cities.
  4.  The adoption of categories of technology that are from The UK Government’s Industrial Strategy.
  5.  More frequent and efficient data collection.

About The Data City:

The DataCity is a startup business that has formed from the activities of ODI Leeds and its partner Jaywing Intelligence. It uses open data, traditional economics and the web, with machine learning and AI to understand the economic structures and metrics of cities and places in real time.

We are radically open and work on projects that will make a difference, that means we publish the questions we are working on, the answers we generate and our methods openly.

Breakdown by individual sectors:

Advanced Manufacturing

Outside of London, Advanced Manufacturing formed reasonably small clusters centred on specific cities. Particularly strong clusters emerged around Manchester in the North West, Leicester, Nottingham and Derby in the East Midlands and a tight cluster in the western part of Yorkshire and the Humber.

Top 10

Rank   

Cluster

Region

Percentage

1 London Greater London 26.7%
2 Manchester, Preston, Wigan, Warrington, Blackburn, Burnley North West 7.1%
3 Leicester, Nottingham, Derby East Midlands 5.4%
4 Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford, Barnsley, Huddersfield, Wakefield Yorkshire and the Humber 4.9%
5 Cambridge East 4.8%
6 Edinburgh, Dundee Scotland 4.4%
7 Bristol South West 4.2%
8 Birmingham West Midlands 4.2%
9 Glasgow Scotland 3.6%
10 Coventry West Midlands 3.0%

 

Smart Cities and Mobility

Birmingham and Coventrylie at the heart of a very strong Smart Cities and Mobility cluster, underpinned by huge business activity. Other areas which rank highly, driven mainly by business activity, are the South East, with two large clusters in Brighton, Aldershot, Worthing, Crawley and Slough and another in Oxford, Southampton, Portsmouth and Reading.Also strongly featured is a cluster which takes in a number of major towns and cities across Yorkshire and the Humber. Although England and Wales both feature highly in this sector, Scotland is less visible. Four of the top ten clusters also cross regional boundaries.

Top 10

Rank   

Cluster

Region

Percentage

1 London Greater London 20.9%
2 Birmingham, Coventry West Midlands 12.2%
3 Brighton, Aldershot, Worthing, Crawley, Slough South East 6.9%
4 Oxford, Southampton, Portsmouth, Reading South East 6.4%
5 Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford, Barnsley, York, Huddersfield, Wakefield, Doncaster Yorkshire and the Humber 5.8%
6 Manchester, Stoke, Warrington, Burnley, Telford North West, West Midlands 5.8%
7 Leicester, Nottingham, Hull, Derby, Mansfield East Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber 5.3%
8 Luton, Northampton, Milton Keynes East, East Midlands, South East 5.3%
9 Liverpool, Birkenhead, Preston, Wigan, Blackpool North West 4.6%
10 Bristol, Cardiff, Newport South West, Wales 4.6%

 

Ageing Society

Particular strengths are found in the Midlands with a West Midlands cluster around Birmingham and an East Midlands cluster enveloping Leicester/Nottingham/Derby.  Manchester ranks fourth with 5.0% and next is Edinburgh with 4.6%. There is also a strong cluster in the North East.

Top 10

Rank   

Cluster

Region

Percentage

1 London, Slough Greater London, South East 31.2%
2 Birmingham West Midlands 6.2%
3 Leicester, Nottingham, Derby East Midlands 5.3%
4 Manchester North West 5.0%
5 Edinburgh Scotland 4.6%
6 Newcastle, Sunderland, Middlesbrough North East 4.5%
7 Reading, Oxford South East 3.7%
8 Liverpool, Birkenhead, Preston, Wigan, Warrington North West 3.6%
9 Cambridge East 3.6%
10 Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield, Wakefield Yorkshire and the Humber 3.4%

 

Clean Growth

Clean Growth is also a key strength in Birmingham which ranks second with 6.2% of of the UK ecosystem, strongly boosted by businesses. In the East Midlands, Leicester, Nottingham and Derby also form a strong cluster, ranking third, with areas in the North West and the South East also scoring highly.

In Scotland, Edinburgh and Glasgow both ranked highly (8th and 10th respectively).  However strengths extend well beyond big cities to Scotland’s North Coast, The Western Isles, and The Northern Isles.

Top 10

Rank   

Cluster

Region

Percentage

1 London Greater London 24.2%
2 Birmingham, Coventry West Midlands 6.4%
3 Leicester, Nottingham, Derby East Midlands 5.9%
4 Manchester, Burnley North West 5.4%
5 Aldershot, Slough South East 4.4%
6 Cambridge, Peterborough East 3.6%
7 Liverpool, Birkenhead, Wigan, Warrington North West 3.4%
8 Edinburgh Scotland 3.3%
9 Oxford South East 3.1%
10 Glasgow Scotland 2.8%

 

AI and Data

Strong business activity underpins AI and Data across all regions, with the South East ranking second after London, with a strong cluster made up of smaller towns including Brighton, Aldershot, Worthing, Crawley and Slough. This was followed by Manchester and Burnley in the North West, Birmingham and Coventry in the West Midlands and Leicester, Nottingham and Derby in the East Midlands.

Top 10

Rank   

Cluster

Region

Percentage

1 London Greater London 27.1%
2 Brighton, Aldershot, Worthing, Crawley, Slough South East 6.9%
3 Manchester, Burnley North West 6.1%
4 Birmingham, Coventry West Midlands 5.3%
5 Leicester, Nottingham, Derby East Midlands 4.2%
6 Oxford, Swindon, Reading South East, South West 4.0%
7 Bristol, Gloucester South West 3.7%
8 Glasgow Scotland 3.3%
9 Luton, Northampton, Milton Keynes East, South East, East Midlands 3.2%
10 Edinburgh Scotland 3.0%