Volterra has assisted cities in Europe, Asia, Americas and Africa, such as Beijing, Detroit, Lagos and London offering advice on economic and strategy issues. Projects tend to address a particular issue, such as projections of skills needs over the next decade, or aim at a particular outcome, such as National Government’s approval of the city’s infrastructure investment or strategic plan.
Greater London Authority
The London Plan
We provided the long term employment projections which underpin the London Plan. We carried out a broad spectrum of individual research projects including the distribution of house prices; classifying types of places; and the relationship between new residents and local jobs. We produced a framework paper which detailed how to understand the uses and limitations of transport and economy models.
London Skills Forecasting
Volterra were commissioned by the GLA to report on the skills that are currently required in London and those that will be required in the future. These were then compared to the education offering available in London by further education colleges, universities, and other private providers. As part of the project we spoke to key employers and a sample of education providers, carried out employment and skills forecasts for London, and provided the GLA with recommendations on how more Londoners, and in particular those from more disadvantaged backgrounds, could better access the London labour market. The findings were well received and were used as an impetus for a change in the capital’s educational offering.
Manchester Independent Economic Review
Innovation Systems in Manchester
In early 2008 we were commissioned by Manchester Enterprisesto take part in one of the largest and most comprehensive regional studies ever undertaken. The Manchester Independent Economic Review (MIER) was an 18 month project across six consultancies and academic institutions which aimed to review the Manchester economy through evidence-based research and make recommendations for the future growth of the city region.
The review commissioned work in the following areas:
- Agglomeration Economies
- Innovation, Trade and Connectivity
- Inward and Indigenous Investment
- Labour Markets, Skills and Talent
- Sustainable Communities
- Daresbury Campus Review
We headed up the Innovation, Trade and Connectivity report which was successfully launched alongside the overall Review in April 2009.
Our report studied the role of networks between businesses and organisations in building innovation capacity in a regional economy. The ground breaking study combined the latest network analysis techniques with quantitative field research, provided through our partners BOP Consulting and Experian. Our special advisor on innovation was Prof. Stan Metcalfe. The report provided the basis for several policy recommendations to spread the benefits of innovation across the Manchester City Region (MCR). These included:
Inclusion of isolated firms into the wider regional system
The survey identified a large number of firms in the MCR that had no trading links with other firms in the region, particularly in the Engineering & Textiles and the Creative / Digital / New Media / IT / Communications industries. As it stands these firms may innovate, either through their own internal processes or by engaging with firms outside the MCR, but this will be contained – the innovation cannot spread beyond the boundaries of these isolated firms to the rest of the MCR. The development of relationships with other MCR businesses will allow this innovation to be adopted by a wider audience.
Business development through inter-sectoral rather than intra-sectoral based policies
The network model highlighted the effectiveness of direct collaborative business relationships over group competitive pressures as a means to both spreading innovation to a wider audience and causing this to occur more frequently. Competitive pressures will be lower and the flow of innovation is much more likely under inter-sectoral relationships.
Developing the role universities as facilitators of inter-organisational relationships
The Manchester City Region is a cluster of university activity. The study has indicated that there is scope for these universities to play a central part in the innovation network, albeit a very different role from that that they currently aspire to. The report recommended a return to the role of universities as facilitators of wider economic linkages, which moves away from the current trend of a focus on commercialisation in universities as a source of innovation, As social spaces that bring together firms and other important parts of the innovation process universities can function as important bridges in the network structure, creating the vital links between firms in the region that facilitates the spread of innovation.
Our work provided part of a shared evidence base which can be used to underpin policy choices regarding future priorities for strategic investment and to bridge some of the persistent gulfs in understanding what exists in the Manchester City Region. The Review it contributed to is more detailed than any previous attempts to support policymakers. It should help towards a shared view of the future development of the City Region’s economy including the longer-term drivers of change and factors facilitating responses to future external changes and shocks.