THE level of investment in research and development that major manufacturers like Boeing and RB – the Reckitt Benckiser group of companies – are now making here is another vote of confidence in Yorkshire.
These are cutting-edge companies that recognise the expertise which is on offer in the region and which can be developed, still further, as a result of closer links between industry and education when it comes to advancing the skills agenda.
And while the innovation of such firms, as RB opens its new £105m science and innovation centre in Hull, will hopefully encourage others to follow suit, it is also a reminder of the R&D opportunities which can be exploited if the Government offered sufficient encouragement and incentives.
As new research from the CBI business organisation reveals today, Yorkshire and the Humber invests less in research than eight of the UK’s 12 regions – a trend that the next Government will be expected to reverse if it is genuinely committed to developing the Northern Powerhouse policy agenda.
Not only would a greater focus on R&D investment in under-performing regions help provide new jobs, but it increases the opportunities for the brightest and best people to commit their futures to this region.
Given this, the creation of ‘Catapult Quarters’, as proposed by the CBI’s director-general Carolyn Fairbairn, is a typically pragmatic proposition that all parties should be looking to implement after the election. For, irrespective of the result, the scale of regional inequality in a divided Britain will be one of the most pressing issues to confront the next Government.