Only 4% of the research and development grant funds awarded by Innovate UK go to
companies located in Yorkshire and the Humber, a new study shows. The analysis was
undertaken on Innovate UK data from 2014 to 2019, obtained by DRIAD, a Leeds-based
innovation consultancy, following a Freedom of Information request. The statistics reveal a
significant national imbalance in innovation funding - not just limited to Yorkshire. On the
whole, English Southern regions are privileged compared to all the others.
The regions shown in orange on the map – London, the South East, South West, East of England and the North East – are above average in the total amount of grant funding they obtained. On the contrary, areas in blue – Scotland, North West England, Wales, East Midlands, Northern Ireland, and Yorkshire and the Humber – are below average, with Yorkshire and the Humber being the region receiving the smallest amount of grant funding.
This imbalance can be put down to various possible root causes. The density of companies in Yorkshire is lower than in the South, with Yorkshire being home to only 7% of the nation’s businesses. Because of this there are consequently fewer applications originating in the county. The graph underneath shows the repartition of applications in percentages: the three South-Eastern regions themselves account for just over half of all applications.
Sources of applications to Innovate UK (per region)
*that includes Yorkshire and the Humber, the North West and the North East
This is worrisome when comparing London and the Northern Powerhouse, both home to about 1.1m businesses. Indeed, with £1.2bn, London receives 20% more funding than the Northern Powerhouse (£0.99bn). Both areas are equal in the number of winning applications, thus the difference is mostly explained by the larger amounts successfully requested by London-based companies.
So what can be done to change this trend then? The first obvious thing would be for companies based in Yorkshire and the Humber to apply for more money on their applications. Indeed, companies based in London are almost 86% more likely to apply than Yorkshire companies. And they need to ask for more: London-companies apply for larger grants, receiving on average about £325,000 per successful application vs. £169,000 in Yorkshire. Both these conclusions are also true of the Northern Powerhouse, though the numbers are less striking.
All is not doom and gloom though. It must be noticed that when Yorkshire companies do apply for a grant, their applications are of high quality. Out of 1515 applications received from the region by Innovate UK between 2014-2019, 1337 were successful - a success rate of 81% overall. This compares favourably to London, which – with a 53% success rate – is the least successful region of the UK overall. A sign that ambition does not always go hand in hand with quality?