Professor Roy Sandbach
Tom Keighley

Member Article

North East can create big waves in the innovation world, says top professor

The North East has the potential to create big waves in the innovation world, but needs a proper ecosystem in place, a global leader in research and development told Bdaily.

Professor Roy Sandbach, a visiting professor at Newcastle University Business School and former leader of research programmes at Procter and Gamble, says the region has all the ingredients it needs a developed brand to deliver to people outside the region.

Speaking to Bdaily at this week’s Return on Innovation conference in Newcastle, where he was speaking, Professor Sandbach said the region has the potential to create top flight innovations that create prosperity - but requires a well thought-out ecosystem to make it work.

He said: “I’m enthusiastic for the North East and I truly believe the region has the opportunity to create big waves within the innovation world.

“It has several ingredients that make it possible, but the ‘pie’ those ingredients make up isn’t well constructed. It has great universities; great people who can help to commercialise innovation; and some great start-ups that have the potential to blossom into big businesses.”

Professor Sandbach highlighted the successes of regional firms such as radiation detection technology specialists Kromek and Durham University spin-out Applied Graphene Materials, which has just floated on the stock market.

In his work with the North East LEP, Professor Sandbach has enlisted the help of an international advisory board to form a proposal for establishing this ecosystem.

He added: “I’ve had a fantastic dialogue with people from within the region and now I’m trying to establish actions that address our problems in branding and connecting up the players in this field.

“I’ve constructed a proposal to the LEP which sets out these strong ingredients but explains why we’re not coming from a traditionally strong innovation standing, which is the challenge.”

As the prospect of Scottish independence loomed this week, Professor Sandbach said the North East needed to compete with top innovation regions around Eindhoven in Holland; Brandenburg in Germany; and Aalto in Finland.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Tom Keighley .

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