By Brigette Currin 3 minute read

The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has just published the first Science and Innovation Audit for the East of England: a detailed look at the state of tech business and innovation in the region.

Launched officially at the VentureFest East conference, the report is one of several commissioned by UK government to provide thorough innovation about some of the UK’s regional tech hotspots. With this information now readily available, the government can better plan investment and help develop sectors according to the region’s needs and unique strengths.

Not all regions are lucky enough to benefit from a Science and Innovation Audit. While all areas of the UK were invited to apply, BEIS picked just four regions in this second wave of reports to undergo an audit. In our opinion, this thorough look at the region’s tech scene came at just the right time. So far, government’s collective understanding of the region beyond London has been incomplete and lacking a compelling narrative.

While the annual TechNation report does provide a great starting point for looking at tech in the UK, it is by no means comprehensive: the report only considers Ipswich, Norwich, and Cambridge, and disregards the many other towns and smaller tech clusters. The Science and Innovation Audit is a much ‘deeper dive’ on the inner workings of tech in the region.

As expected – though we might be a little biased – the Science and Innovation Audit paints a glowing picture of the East as a centre for science and technological innovation. The audit attributes the region’s talent to its world-class universities, as well as its many startups and scaleups. In the foreword to the report, Dr Andy Richards CBE described the region as a “deep, vibrant and concentrated cluster…The connected nature of this ecosystem makes it a key engine of growth for the UK economy”.

Although the audit was put together by and for government, it couldn’t do it all by itself. BEIS invited Tech East to join the steering group for the sector of the report looking at ICT and Digital. Our role was to work alongside the business lead (BT), the region’s universities to help BEIS build up a picture of the region. In particular, we helped connect the audit with startups, scaleups, SMEs and business networks and ensure the voice of the region’s small businesses was heard.

As always, we were delighted to contribute to anything that helps put our local tech hotspot on the map. The publication of the Science and Innovation Audit is great news for TechEast members, as it clearly showcases why tech matters to the economy – both regionally and nationally. As it develops its new Industrial Strategy, government sees the audit as important evidence for supporting decisions as to which specialisations have potential global competitive advantage and should be supported in future. Strong clusters tend to attract greater investment and the audit further places tech in the East on the map.

The following infographic taken from the audit summarises some of the key elements present in our healthy regional ecosystem:


Tech East members can feel proud that they are at the heart of this unique ecosystem, and confident that as Government develops its strategy for investment in innovation within the digital and ICT tech sector we are collectively seen as a key growth sector, already world-class but with the potential to go even further.

Armed with the insight provided in the new Science and Innovation Audit, we look forward to continuing to engage with government to support our region and look forward to the planned Industrial white paper.