Over the next six to 12 months, the new commission will lead the Local Industrial Strategy process in Hertfordshire, under John Gourd’s chairmanship, alongside identified business leaders, innovators and academics.

During a widespread engagement process, the commission will gather evidence under the four over-arching themes identified in the Government’s White Paper. These Grand Challenges are:

• Artificial Intelligence and Big Data
• Clean Energy
• Shaping Future Mobility
• Innovation for an Ageing Society

Panels will be set up, each chaired by a Grand Challenge ‘champion’ drawn from the private sector to take the Grand Challenges forward. They will be supported by task and finish groups comprising representatives from local authorities, FE colleges, the NHS and local MPs. Evidence gathered will then feed into a draft Local Industrial Strategy which will go out to formal public consultation before seeking Board approval and culminating in a Westminster launch.

John Gourd said: “I am delighted to be chairing this commission. The development of a Local Industrial Strategy is a huge opportunity for Hertfordshire to showcase its assets, identify and seek to address its weaknesses, and further refine the LEP’s priorities to develop skills, increase innovation and enhance business and infrastructure growth.

“Here in Hertfordshire we have the potential to be a trailblazer for early delivery of a Local Industrial Strategy. Our Strategic Economic Plan is very closely aligned to the Government’s five foundations of productivity. It is vital that we build a substantive case for Hertfordshire based on robust evidence. To that end we will be engaging widely and closely with existing institutions including universities, research institutes and businesses.”

The engagement process will be launched at the LEP’s Annual Conference on 29th March at the University of Hertfordshire. This has been timed to coincide with the official opening of the Hertfordshire Science Partnership in the University’s Science Building to showcase cutting-edge innovations already taking place in the county.

Hertfordshire Science Partnership, which received £2.5m Growth Deal funding, is an innovative collaboration between the University of Hertfordshire and Hertfordshire LEP. It leverages the state-of-the-art facilities and academic expertise at the University to boost the dynamic life sciences sector in Hertfordshire.

Professor Quintin McKellar CBE, Vice-Chancellor, University of Hertfordshire said: “With the Government’s proposed industrial strategy looking to universities to improve the translation from world-class research to commercial outcomes, we hope that the pioneering approach taken in the partnership will be an example of proactive steps that institutions can take to drive technology-led economic growth.”