Leeds to host major international MIT innovation programme

Leeds and the City Region has been chosen to host a prestigious international innovation programme, in partnership with one of the world’s most famous universities, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

5 August 2019

Over a hundred leaders from government, business, universities and finance as well as entrepreneurs from across the world will converge on Leeds to understand more about the region’s strengths and ambitions.

It will also position Leeds and the City Region at the forefront of the Government’s drive for national growth and increased competitiveness.

Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (the LEP), said:

“In the Leeds City Region, we pride ourselves on our innovation heritage and believe passionately in the role we can play in unlocking potential not only here in the North but across the entire UK.

“With 14 colleges and nine universities, we are home to one of the highest concentrations of Further and Higher Education establishments in the country which provides us with a wealth of opportunity for innovation, research and development.

“This programme will shine the global spotlight on our City Region and provide a key opportunity to ensure government truly understands the value we already add and what we need to reach our future potential.”

Minister of State for the Northern Powerhouse, the Rt Hon Jake Berry MP, said:

“I am proud that Leeds City Region is following in the footsteps of global cities like Beijing, London and Tokyo in hosting this prestigious international programme in partnership with the world-renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“It will draw on the expertise and know-how of some of the world’s preeminent business leaders, academics and government representatives to help supercharge growth, create new jobs and further strengthen the resurgent Northern Powerhouse economy.”

The MIT innovation programme provides expert, evidence-based guidance to support regions to accelerate economic growth, job creation and social change.

It has helped nations and cities such as Beijing, Tokyo and Qatar in the past, shaping their economic and societal impact.

Leeds is hosting the next stage in the global programme in January 2020, having successfully bid for a place on the globally renowned two-year MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme (REAP) last year.

“This is undoubtedly an important boost for the UK, to be able to showcase its reputation for innovation and enterprise,” said Professor Lisa Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Leeds, who leads the Leeds team in the programme.

“MIT identified this region as having significant strengths to support the UK economy. We know that we can collectively create a truly remarkable environment and find new ways to support innovation, enterprise and inclusive growth. This is our chance for Leeds and the City Region to share our ideas and shine on an international stage.”

With three million people, the Leeds City Region is the UK’s largest economic area outside London and generates more than 5% of the UK’s economic outputs.

The MIT programme is currently supporting the regional team to identify challenges and barriers to progress. The January workshop will help regions develop new strategies to implement change, to support innovation and inclusive growth.

“MIT is delighted that its global MIT REAP program will be hosted by Team Leeds in January 2020,” said Dr.Phil Budden, Senior Lecturer, at MIT Management School

“Against stiff competition within its international MIT REAP cohort, Team Leeds made a most compelling case for hosting the next MIT REAP workshop, drawing both on the city region’s strengths and the Team’s plans for leveraging this event for building a strong innovation-driven entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

“On behalf of the MIT REAP staff, faculty and Teams from around the world, let me say that we are excited to bring our MIT REAP program to the UK again, and excited to see Team Leeds showcase their region, and indeed the wider country, to such a global audience.”

The Leeds City team includes leaders from the University of Leeds and Nexus, KPMG, Arup, Leeds City Council, the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Leeds Academic Health Partnership, and entrepreneurs Adam Beaumont, David Aspin and Ben Ziff.

The wide-ranging MIT programme will see international teams join interactive workshops in the University’s iconic innovation hub, Nexus, as well as attending networking events across the city.

Martin Stow, Director of Nexus said: “We already have a strong regional ecosystem. Our participation in MIT REAP, and the opportunity to showcase the Leeds City Region to our international counterparts only strengthens this further; accelerating economic growth, creating more jobs and making the region more attractive to growing businesses and start-ups.”

Leeds will welcome international delegations to the three-day programme between 27 – 30 January 2020, including teams from Central Denmark, Guangzhou (China), Kentucky, Oslo and Sydney.

Supporting Quotes

Justine Andrew, Director at KPMG in Leeds:

“For us as a significant employer in the region, having a vibrant, innovation-driven economy is vital for our success commercially and also in helping us to attract the brightest and best talent to work for us.”

Adam Beaumont, Visiting Professor, University of Leeds; CEO and Founder of aql and Founder of NorthInvest:

"The programme not only helps us to identify and nurture the essential components of our entrepreneurial ecosystem, it also brings those key stakeholders closer together via a common language. It's important that we learn how to commercialise intellectual capital generated in our region and the REAP programme will help us achieve that." 

Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council:

“We are very much looking forward to welcoming and hosting 10 international cities from across the world as part of the MIT Cohort 6 next year. This will have a hugely positive impact on the profile of Leeds on a global scale as we showcase what the city has to offer as part of this prestigious programme.

“Leeds is the second most popular conferencing venue in the north, and fourth in the UK and our prominence in this sector continues to grow as we host globally renowned institutions such as MIT.”

Tom Bridges, Leeds Office Leader and City Consultant, Arup:

“As a major business in Leeds which is investing in innovation, digital transformation and collaborating with start-ups, we are thrilled to be part of the team bringing the MIT innovation programme to the city.

“Our work with UK Innovation Districts Group and Centre for Cities shows how UK cities can create, attract and scale-up fast-growing businesses to drive productivity and economic growth. With world leading expertise in healthcare, data and education, and a strong and diverse business base – Leeds and the city region has the potential to become the economic engine room of the North.”

Jo-Anne Wass, Chief Operating Officer for Leeds Academic Health Partnership:

“We’re delighted to have been chosen to host the next stage of this important programme. As well as highlighting the exciting economic potential of the Leeds City Region, it also underlines the importance we place on having an inclusive approach to growth as a major influence on health and wellbeing. By improving opportunities for good jobs, skills and prosperity which benefit everyone in all our communities, we will strengthen our partnership aim to reduce health inequalities.”

Ben Ziff, Managing Director at TCS:

“To be a part of such a fantastic program and to be hosting a workshop in Leeds is not only a huge honour for the Leeds REAP team but it will also unlock many doors, ideas and huge economic growth for our great city. Welcoming the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the cohort teams to Leeds will capitalise on the Northern Powerhouse’s innovative mind-set and talent pool”

Thursday 1 August 2019