Hertfordshire: State of the Economy 2018

We kick-started a Hertfordshire wide conversation to support the development of a Local Industrial Strategy for the county at our State of the Economy event, 30 November. Businesses, academia, not for profit and public sector organisations contributed to discussions on emerging priorities to grow the economy, drive up productivity and embrace new technologies to support innovation. 

Read the press release (includes conference material and the latest economic evidence).


Hertfordshire: Back to the Future 

We are building on Hertfordshire’s historic strengths and pioneering spirit to develop a Local Industrial Strategy that can help the county become a UK testbed. Underpinned by Government’s five foundations of productivity, the strategy will help ensure Hertfordshire remains ‘Fit for the Future’. Find out how:


What are Local Industrial Strategies?

Local Enterprise Partnerships have been tasked with developing Local Industrial Strategies to help create more prosperous communities and tackle the vast regional and local disparities that exist across the UK. A Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) should bring together a strong, well-informed evidence base about an area’s economy and outline a long-term set of priorities that capitalise on existing opportunities in the economy, address weaknesses and resolve an area’s needs.

Here in Hertfordshire, a lot of the groundwork has been done already thanks to our Strategic Economic Plan. Now we must gather evidence in relation to the Grand Challenges and what the consequences are for future productivity and performance. The four Grand Challenges are:

AI and Data Economy: putting the UK at the forefront of the artificial intelligence data revolution;
Clean Energy: maximising the advantages for UK industry from the global shift to clean growth;
Future of Mobility: becoming a world leader in the way people, goods and services move;
Ageing Society: harnessing the power of innovation to help meet the needs of an ageing society.

Our approach
At our Annual Conference on 29 March 2018 we set out our approach, Grand Challenges for Hertfordshire, which has been endorsed by Business Minster Richard Harrington. We also launched our Grand Challenge Commission, led by former LEP Board Member John Gourd, to build up a robust evidence base. Find out more:

Next Steps

In October 2018, Government released a Policy Prospectus setting out the objectives, policy rationale and recommended approach to developing Local Industrial Strategies, with which Hertfordshire LEP's approach is fully in line. 

We have been working with a number of key stakeholders across local government, research institutions and local businesses to gather evidence in relation to the Grand Challenges and what the consequences are for future productivity and performance. Our Strategic Economic Plan has identified five possible contenders:

1. Stevenage Space Science
2. Open innovation and life sciences
3. Agri-tech
4. Construction technologies/approaches and the Enterprise Zone
5. Enterprising communities

We have mapped these assets in relation to the Grand Challenges and, following extensive conversations, identified three major areas that have the ‘potential to drive regional [and national growth], focusing on clusters of expertise and centres of economic activity’. 

These are:  

  1. Innovation District: To support the regeneration of Stevenage and maximise the cell and gene therapy (life sciences) market around Gunnels Wood Road and the London-Cambridge corridor;
  2. Enterprise Zone: To support the development of expertise in new construction techniques, maximising clean growth for the construction industry;
  3. Enterprising Communities: To drive the mix of enterprise and housing provision in the development of new Garden Town Harlow & Gilston and the development in East and North Hemel;

This new evidence base will be presented at our Hertfordshire: State of the Economy 2018 event at the University of Hertfordshire on 30th November. A business survey will also be launched to check and challenge this evidence and its findings will feed into the development of the Local Industrial Strategy to be agreed with Government by 2020. 

Meet our Grand Challenge champions and panellists 

AI and Big Data champion: Paul Clarke, Chief Technology Officer, Ocado

Paul joined Ocado in 2006. After establishing new teams for simulation and mobile development, he co-wrote the first of Ocado’s award-winning mobile apps. In his current role, Paul heads up Ocado Technology, whose 950+ software engineers and other IT specialists are responsible for building the software and IT infrastructure that powers Ocado and also Morrisons’ online grocery business. He has worked in software engineering, consultancy, interim management and a number of software start-ups.

Paul recently submitted written evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee report into AI,  regarding the inflexibility of the apprenticeship levy with regards to the AI development sector. Read the full report: AI in the UK: Ready, willing and able.

Inside Ocado's Distribution Warehouse
Take a tour of the automated world of online grocery shopping at Ocado’s distribution warehouse in Hatfield.

Future of Mobility champion: Daniel Hobbs, Regional Director, AECOM

 Daniel Hobbs

Daniel is leading the development of the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) business in the South East and supporting key technical areas across the UK and globally. AECOM is a global network of design, engineering, construction and management professionals partnering with clients to imagine and deliver a better world. Key AECOM projects include Crossrail London, Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games and Los Angeles International Airport. 

Ageing Society panellist: Dr Stephen Ward PhD, Chief Operating Officer, Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult

Since being appointed the first Chief Operating Officer of the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult in January 2013, Stephen has established the world-class industrialisation capabilities of the facility at Guy’s Hospital in London, and designed and built the innovative manufacturing centre in Stevenage. He brings over 20 years of experience in biological medicine research, development, and manufacturing to the organisation. Stephen is passionate about delivering cutting edge technologies to patients through the development of commercially viable products, and about securing and growing the cell and gene therapy manufacturing and development supply chain.

In addition to seeking the views and expert opinions of our key sector organisations, we are working in partnership with public stakeholders, including the University of Hertfordshire, Royal Veterinary College, Hertfordshire County Council, the NHS, local authorities, housing associations and education providers to ensure that our Industrial Strategy will be robust and strongly future facing.