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    Disruptive Economic Growth

    Norfolk County Council | Hethel Innovation

    The Disruptive Economic Growth project set out to deliver economic development in an innovative way that would drive change, increase innovation and engage communities in enterprise. The goal was and is to deliver real impact, working with and in local communities, building connected communities and leading clusters.

    What objectives did you set out to achieve?

    We set out to change the way economic development was delivered in our region, we think big, catalyse change, and disruptively innovate. We have identified six pillars of growth which will be delivered through a series of initiatives, training, and infrastructure:

    • Innovation and Commercialisation - hubs, platforms, training and incubators
    • Enterprise and Growth – parks, communities, seminars, training
    • Strategy and Emerging Sectors – networks, strategies, cross-sector, hackathons
    • Productivity and Performance – centres, interventions, conference, leaders
    • Competitiveness and Trade – Ambassadors, compete training, export pioneers, digital portal and resources
    • Clusters, Parks & Incubators – along growth corridors with sector focused incubators at the heart

    What was your single biggest challenge in achieving them?

    Operating within a council environment faced us with many challenges. Due to the structure of the organisation and regulations we were unable to implement projects quickly.

    Today the market changes rapidly, and the ability to react to that change is paramount to placing our region in a nationally competitive place. This is ever more important in the digital age, a time when communication is rapid and change is fast.

    Operating in the council we were unable to access many funding steams that would be able to help us implement large scale projects that would catalyse change and disrupt markets.

    What did you do differently to overcome that challenge?

    We formed a spin out company from the council, Hethel Innovation, that operates as a private business. We became an agile organisation that is able to quickly respond to sudden shifts in the market place and competition.

    We rapidly develop and implement new projects and initiatives that support our ethos of Think Big, Catalyse Change, and Disruptively Innovate. We support businesses in a grass roots way and have been able to extend our reach outside of the county lines, leading to a wider impact. We have accessed new funding streams that have support the implementation of large-scale projects

    What were your most impactful outcomes?

    Through the construction of an Innovation Hub focused on supporting advanced engineering and high value manufacturing cluster, the transformation of an ex-RAF base into an enterprise park, and the implementation of large-scale projects we have been able to achieve the following outcomes:

    • Supported the creation of 1592 jobs
    • Supported 46 collaboration between businesses and universities
    • Supported 1440 businesses
    • Helped created 208 start-ups
    • Supported the development of 99 new products, processes and services
    • Added value to the economy of £21.5 million

    In a sentence, what was the biggest learning you took away from this?

    The ability to be agile is key to staying at the forefront of economic development we need to be fast and adaptive to change, developing training/support programs quickly and piloting early was crucial. We needed to dare to dream and think big creating a new brand for Norfolk, a new future.

    What will you do next?

    We are launching a new project in January 2019, Breakthrough, that will support cross-sector innovation through our digital platforms. We are bringing more incubation space online to allow the creation of new jobs and support start-ups. We are developing productivity arcs, to drive productivity.

    Find out more about Hethel Innovation