People will be key to driving innovation in East’s strongest science sectors

Earlham Institute at Norwich Research Park. Picture: Anthony Cullen

Earlham Institute at Norwich Research Park. Picture: Anthony Cullen - Credit: Anthony Cullen

After the publication of a review of the East's science and innovation landscape, ​sector leaders share their thoughts on its findings with Bethany Whymark.

Lintott Control Systems. Chief operating officer Jamie Thums with one of their UV treatment systems.

Lintott Control Systems. Chief operating officer Jamie Thums with one of their UV treatment systems. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

An exploration of the East of England's scientific strengths has reinforced the need for greater technological advancement – but one sector leader has warned businesses not to overlook their human talent.

The government-backed Science and Innovation Audit, which studied the region's life sciences, agri-tech, advanced materials and manufacturing, and ICT sectors, said the implementation of new technologies would be a key driver of progress.

But Jamie Thums, chairman of industry network New Anglia Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (NAAME), said there was 'great talent' in the region which should not be underestimated.

He said: 'Technology is a cornerstone to solving the productivity problem and improving the economic performance of the region but I also think people are going to have their day.


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'I see businesses identifying the ingredients that will pull in talent, but also train existing talent so we become more productive and technologically focused.

Agri-Tech East: "Vege-bots" could handle and cut iceberg lettuces with the same care as human worker

Agri-Tech East: "Vege-bots" could handle and cut iceberg lettuces with the same care as human workers. - Credit: Submitted

'We have an opportunity to create some talented individuals.'

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He added: 'The great age of manufacturing is now and to solve a lot of our problems it requires engineers to collaborate, not just in their own space but with academia, to make a social and economic difference.'

Designed to survey cutting edge innovations in industry and the public sector, the Science and Innovation Audits could help regions secure government funding for their areas of strength.

Dr Belinda Clarke, director of Agri-Tech East, said: 'The East of England is one of the most fertile regions in the UK and is home to many progressive farmers, ground-breaking technologists, innovative companies and centres of world leading research. Agri-Tech East is the catalyst, bringing these elements together to accelerate the transfer of knowledge from lab to field.'

Prof Tim Whitley, managing director of BT Research and Innovation and of Adastral Park in Ipswich, said: 'The research and innovation undertaken in universities and businesses across the East of England in areas such as data science, predictive analytics, cybersecurity and AI continue to impact on every aspect of our society.

Dr Belinda Clarke, director of Agri-Tech East. Picture: Agri-Tech East

Dr Belinda Clarke, director of Agri-Tech East. Picture: Agri-Tech East - Credit: Agri-Tech East

'I am confident that if we focus on open, collaborative innovation across the region then the East of England will remain at the heart of the UK's economic prosperity.'

Sally Ann Forsyth, chief executive of Norwich Research Park, a key contributor to the review, said the park had identified 'clear synergies with other organisations'.

'This collaborative ethos helps to speed the translation of our world class research into products and services for the global market place and demonstrates that it is the quality of the people that truly underpins this vibrant cluster'.

Launch of Norwich Science Festival 2016 at the Forum. Dr Sally Ann Forsyth PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Launch of Norwich Science Festival 2016 at the Forum. Dr Sally Ann Forsyth PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

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