BUSINESSES across Leeds City Region will have more access to national innovation support thanks to a ground-breaking partnership agreement between The West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Innovate UK, the Government’s national innovation agency.

The agreement signed in Bradford today is aimed at heralding a new dawn of innovation and development across the City Region.

With a strong innovation pedigree that has its roots in the Industrial Revolution, Leeds City Region has a growing reputation for innovation and invention helped by its significant concentration of world-leading universities and the largest cluster of manufacturing jobs in the country.

Despite these significant strengths, Leeds City Region attracts only 57 per cent of the UK average investment per employee from Innovate UK.

The new partnership will tackle this deficit by helping the region’s SMEs compete more effectively for this national funding.

Business-focused measures the LEP and Innovate UK will now work together on include:

• Making it easier for businesses across the Leeds City Region to get help with innovation thanks to a joined-up, accessible programme of support provided by both the LEP and Innovate UK.

• Making it simpler for local businesses to access funding from the LEP and Innovate UK.

• Taking an increasingly proactive and targeted approach to identifying, supporting and inspiring SMEs to innovate.

Councillor Tim Swift, deputy chairman of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) and deputy leader of Calderdale Council, put pen to paper on the agreement alongside Andrew Wright, chairman of the LEP Business, Innovation and Growth (BIG) Panel and Kevin Baughan, deputy chief executive of Innovate UK.

The partnership was signed in front of key business leaders at Borg Warner in Roydsdale Way on the Euroway Industrial Estate in Bradford.

Cllr Swift said: “We’re delighted to be signing today’s official partnership agreement with Innovate UK.

"The Leeds City region has a strong and proud history of innovation that extends into the present day, particularly in key digital and medical technology sectors.

"We hope that by working even more closely with Innovate UK and helping even more businesses access the support and funding on offer, we can ensure we remain at the forefront of ground-breaking advancement and development for years to come.”

Mr Wright said the new partnership was a significant step to boosting the regional economy.

“The LEP shares the Government’s commitment to innovation and we want the Leeds City Region to be recognised globally for the strength of its innovation eco-system," he said.

"By signing today’s partnership agreement, we are taking a huge step towards achieving this aim, helping us to be both recognised on the global stage and to attract the talent, ideas and investment we need.

“This agreement is also about supporting the many SMEs and businesses already in our region that see innovation as key to growth for them.

"By creating an environment that will nurture innovation, we will create a strong, productive, resilient economy where an uplift in productivity and business competitiveness will go hand in hand with access to good jobs and higher wages for all.”

In a recent survey of innovation across the Leeds City Region, 47 per cent of businesses bosses reported they had introduced new or significantly improved processes over the past 12 months, while 39 per cent had also introducing new or improved products.

In addition, the region has one of the largest concentrations of universities in Europe and research and development within Higher Education that is already outperforming the rest of the UK.