Highlighting Excellence: De-risking Investment


Brief: Our clients were a UK research funding organisation and a global blue chip personal products business with a leadership position in FMCG. Our challenge was to identify the unique elements of economies in terms of skills and workforce in two large geographic areas of the UK, the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Growth Engine.

Approach: The project required us to gather, clean, organise and aggregate data and generate unique ways to present data to the client to ensure that the difference across areas due to population levels and skills did not introduce bias in to the assessment of the clustering and critical mass of innovative skills. In essence, we had to be able to properly identify and characterise hotspots of activity and skills without simply saying that they are in those centres with the greatest population. We used a variety of datasets to map businesses, employment, education performance, transport infrastructure, innovation activity and other indicators of activity that could identify clusters of excellence and skills. We examined more than 50 indicators from over 2 million records and used them to describe in detail the core strengths of each geography.

Conclusion: We developed a framework model for describing place, its unique attributes and changes over time. The model identified where certain industries and skill sets were more likely to be found, showing how people were moving within areas for living and work, as well as major transport infrastructure and the movement of goods. Using our insights, the clients have been able to produce a short list of areas that could support the type of investment in manufacturing that they are interested in developing.


Impact: The clients have used the model to identify hotspots of activity to further develop commensurate with the skills of the area.