Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Innovation Accelerator programme

The Innovation Accelerator programme is investing £100 million in 26 transformative research and development projects to accelerate the growth of three high-potential innovation clusters: Glasgow City Region, Greater Manchester and West Midlands. It’s led by Innovate UK on behalf of UK Research and Innovation and the Department for Science and Innovation (DSIT).

£100 million allocated in one funding round
This is a pilot programme running to March 2025
Partners involved:
Innovate UK, Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), Department for Business and Trade (DBT), regional partners: West Midlands Combined Authority, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Glasgow City Council

The scope and what we're doing

The Innovation Accelerators is a pilot programme to support three city regions in becoming major, globally competitive centres for research and innovation.

As a pilot for national to local co-creation, it also provides evidence for the success factors necessary to:

  • grow innovation clusters across the UK
  • inform future policy for research and development (R&D)
  • cement the UK’s position as a science and technology superpower

Twenty-six R&D projects selected by the three city regions have received funding to:

  • attract private sector R&D co-investment
  • make improvements to productivity
  • create high-quality jobs that will enrich the lives of the local community
  • boost regional economic growth
  • develop the technologies of tomorrow

Glasgow will boost extensive venture capital investment in key growth innovation sectors, including advanced manufacturing, space, and precision medicine.

Greater Manchester will lead the way in sustainable advanced materials and manufacturing, digital and tech, health innovation, and technology to become carbon neutral by 2038.

West Midlands will accelerate R&D and innovation strengths in greener technologies and improved personalised and digital healthcare, diversifying its economy while boosting supply chains and creating new local jobs.

Funded projects

Each of the three regions has received an equal share of the £100 million funding allocation for the 26 locally led, high-impact projects.

Glasgow City Region

Projects include:

  • ‘Fusing a future from Glasgow’s proud heritage: schedule guaranteed high-integrity structures for a secure, safe and resilient transition to net zero’, led by University of Strathclyde (sector: net zero)
  • ‘Risk stratification tool for colorectal polyp surveillance’, led by University of Glasgow (sector: health)
  • ‘ReMake Glasgow: creating the leading circular manufacturing hub’, led by University of Strathclyde (sector: energy)
  • ‘FinTech centre of innovation in financial regulation’, led by Fintech Scotland (sector: digital)
  • ‘Museums in the metaverse’, led by University of Glasgow (sector: creative)
  • ‘Pilot Accelerator for National Institute for Quantum Integration’, led by University of Glasgow (sector: electronics)
  • ‘Modular chemical robot farms for chemical manufacturing’, led by Chemify Limited (sector: manufacturing)
  • ‘Data-driven design and manufacturing CoLAB (D3M_CoLAB)’, led by University of Strathclyde (sector: digital)
  • ‘Innovation accelerator in neutral atom quantum optimisation’, led by M-Squared Lasers Limited (sector: emerging technology)
  • ‘Next generation remote-sensing technologies’, led by Thales UK Limited (sector: electronics)
  • ‘Stratellite: transforming space and photonics manufacturing’, led by University of Strathclyde (sector: space)

Greater Manchester

Projects include:

  • ‘Future homes’, led by University of Salford (sector: net zero)
  • ‘Greater Manchester Electrochemical Hydrogen Cluster’, led by Manchester Metropolitan University (sector: net zero)
  • ‘Manchester Turing Innovation Hub (MTIH)’, led by The University of Manchester (sector: digital)
  • ‘The development and validation of technology for time-critical genomic testing (DEVOTE) programme’, led by The University of Manchester (sector: health)
  • ‘Energy accelerator for non-domestic buildings’, led by The Growth Company (sector: net zero)
  • ‘Centre for Digital Innovation (CDI)’, led by Manchester Metropolitan University (sector: digital)
  • ‘Pilots for the Sustainable Materials Translational Research Centre (p- SMTRC)’, led by Rochdale Development Agency (sector: advanced materials)
  • ‘AR EdTech For Hydrogen Skills’, led by Blair Project LTD (sector: net zero)
  • ‘GM Advanced Diagnostics Accelerator’, a partnership between Health Innovation Manchester, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, and University of Manchester (sector: health)
  • ‘MediaCity Immersive Technologies Innovation Hub’, led by The Landing at Media City UK Limited (sector: creative)

West Midlands

Projects include:

  • ‘West Midlands ‘6D’ Innovation Accelerator’, led by University of Birmingham (sector: health technology)
  • ‘Clean futures’, led by Connected Places Catapult (sector: clean technology)
  • ‘West Midlands Innovation Programme’, led by West Midlands Combined Authority (sector: health and clean technology)
  • ‘The Biochar Clean Tech Accelerator: empowering regional clusters’, led by Aston University (sector: clean technology)
  • ‘Digital innovation transformative change’, led by Connected Places Catapult (sector: health and clean technology)

Why we're doing it

To support the government’s levelling-up agenda, this is a new model of R&D decision-making that empowers local leaders to:

  • harness innovation in support of regional economic growth
  • help attract private R&D investment
  • develop future technologies

Who to contact

Ask a question about this area of investment

The Innovate UK Place and Levelling up team


Governance, management and panels

The Innovation Accelerator (IA) programme is overseen by a programme board chaired by Indro Mukerjee (Innovate UK Chief Executive Officer) and including representation from:

  • Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT)
  • UKRI
  • Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC)
  • Department of Business and Trade (DBT)

The board meets quarterly, with additional meetings organised when decisions need to be made. As co-creation and cross-government collaboration are fundamental principles driving the programme, members of the Innovation Accelerator partnerships are formally invited to contribute to strategic discussions every other meeting.

Innovation Accelerator partnerships

Each Innovation Accelerator is led by a local IA partnership, chaired by an experienced business leader, bringing together representatives from business and industry, local government, R&D institutions and others, as relevant.

Partnerships are responsible for ensuring that the group is well balanced, and that its diversity reflects that of the region it represents.

The West Midlands partnership, chaired by Mike Wright (formerly Jaguar-Land Rover), is built around the Combined Authority’s existing Innovation Board.

The Greater Manchester partnership, chaired by Chris Oglesby (Chief Executive Officer of Bruntwood), is built around Innovation Greater Manchester. This is an existing partnership made up of representatives from business, academia and local government.

In Glasgow City Region, a new partnership has been established, chaired by John Howie (Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Babcock International). It brings together representatives from the eight local councils with local businesses and academia.

Each partnership has been responsible for appointing the local funding panel that selected the projects for funding, following an independent assessment of bids through a process led by Innovate UK.

The partnerships are responsible for:

  • developing and coordinating the strategic plans for each Innovation Accelerator
  • supporting the delivery of those plans throughout the pilot period and beyond as they assess the impact of the programme

Each partnership has the responsibility to decide the local objectives for the Innovation Accelerators in each city region and report against those objectives to the programme board at least on an annual basis.

Innovate UK leads on operational delivery on behalf of UKRI. Dean Cook, Director of Place and Levelling Up, is the programme director and has accountability for ensuring the programme achieves its aims and objectives. He works closely with DSIT’s policy team for Place, Impact and Research, which has oversight of the complementary programme of policy and regulatory support.

Last updated: 7 December 2023

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