A bold vision to create a global hub for innovation and green development that inspires communities worldwide
The leadership behind the Oxford to Cambridge Arc, an area which the Chancellor of the Exchequer described as a “key economic priority” for the country, has unveiled its bold vision in a prospectus submitted to Government.
The Arc is already home to nearly four million people and two million jobs which together generate over £111bn of economic output each year. The area incorporates the five ceremonial counties of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. Based upon determined leadership and new financial backing, forecasts show that increased productivity resulting from intensifying the Arc’s global strengths in science, technology and high-value manufacturing, could double the area’s economic output to over £200bn by 2050.
Professor Sir Peter Gregson, Chief Executive and Vice Chancellor of Cranfield University and Chair of the Arc Universities Group, which represents all 10 universities in the area, said: “With investment, we can better connect and realise the potential of our world-class assets and the know-how created by our area’s people, businesses and institutions. We aim to be a testbed for new ways of living and working including by demonstrating net zero carbon and environmental net gain are achievable and economically beneficial. This connection will unlock the potential across our sector strengths to propel the Arc and the UK into an era of global growth at the vanguard of innovation.”
The prospectus asks for commitment from Government to long term investment in the area, enabling the Arc to fulfil its true potential to deliver transformational economic growth that
will benefit the whole of the UK. The Arc provides the basis for an investment return to government in the order of over £4 for every £1 of public expenditure. This will further catalyse increased value across the Arc area and the UK economy through new inter-regional collaborations, increased expenditure in research and development and creation of new supply chain opportunities across the country. That investment will be crucial to tackle connectivity and congestion constraints and to provide the skills that industry requires to enable the Arc to pursue its role as a leading global innovation region.
Hilary Chipping, Chief Executive of South East Midland’s Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) said: “The Arc will prioritise innovations that seek to address climate change and the decline in natural capital. Embedding these into creating places that protect and enhance our environment, natural resources and improve the wellbeing and prosperity of people are fundamental to our economic ambition. The Oxford-Cambridge Arc will be a Green Arc that can inspire communities around the world.
“Connecting the ideas and expertise, sector strengths and assets together across the whole of the Arc creates a powerful national and global proposition. The South East Midlands – Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes – sits right at the heart of that.”
Councillor Barry Wood, Chair of the Arc Leaders Group and Leader of Cherwell District Council said: “The Arc region has a critical mass of research, high-technology expertise and innovation assets found nowhere else in the UK. Yet we are at a pivotal time, during which our nation’s economic resilience is being tested far beyond anything we’ve seen before. Working with Government we can release the potential of the Arc’s key sectors, scientific community and entrepreneurial spirit to propel our country’s response to the major national and global challenges we face.”
The Arc will pursue innovation-led growth to help solve major, urgent environmental, health and social challenges, and at the same time, drive UK competitiveness and local prosperity. The Arc’s vision specifically sets out a plan to make the UK a world-leader in new technology and industries in zero-carbon aviation, space, life sciences, future mobility, high-value manufacturing, creative industries and green energy.