In March 2020, MIT REAP launched the pilot of its new Focus program in the UK. Gathering six teams from across the target region, the program drove the creation and execution of actionable MIT REAP strategies to strengthen innovation and entrepreneurship. The MIT REAP Focus UK program concluded on February 4, 2021, but many regional initiatives remain ongoing.

Focus UK leveraged learnings from the MIT REAP Core Cohort 6 team, Leeds City, UK – graduated in October 2020 – to expedite productivity, employment, and returns from research in six additional UK communities. Originally conceived as an intense six-month long program, Focus UK expanded its engagement to accommodate new challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic through March 2021. Focus UK was supported by the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and by Loughborough University.

Focus UK teams represented entrepreneurs, risk capital providers, corporates, academia, and governments in an evidence-based approach to accelerating innovation and entrepreneurship in each team’s community. Focus UK harnessed the frameworks founded and established through the MIT REAP Global program, established in 2012, and translated them more deeply into the regional context with a cohort composed of entirely UK-based teams.

Focus UK drew from MIT REAP’s experience with over 50+ regions from around, including UK-based teams from London, Scotland, Wales and Leeds City, UK. In collaboration with the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and Loughborough University, Focus UK deepened collective efforts and community of practice of entrepreneurship and innovation by engaging key communities across the UK. The benefit of MIT’s theoretical and practice-based expertise and regional leadership, focused on this new initiative to support productivity growth, remains a defining factor in the delivery of the UK’s local Industrial Strategies.

  • Enable a cohort of UK community teams to swiftly apply elements of the MIT REAP frameworks to initiatives in their regions.
  • Customize frameworks to the UK setting and teams, while retaining the MIT REAP core frameworks, methods, and elements for success and focusing on insights that support local productivity growth and local Industrial Strategies.
  • Apply the MIT REAP core frameworks to the UK’s objective of enhancing the productivity of small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) and innovation-driven enterprises (IDEs), including:
    • Applying a key approach to accelerating innovation ecosystems and its emphasis on how regions must build both entrepreneurial capacity (E-Cap) to start and grow businesses, and innovative capacity (I-Cap) to drive new ideas, adopt new technologies, and introduce these solutions into businesses;
    • Understanding the role of innovation and technology in local productivity;
    • Enabling better investment decisions at both local and national levels from comprehensive networks of stakeholders, including entrepreneurs, risk capital providers, corporates, academia, and governments.
  • Provide UK community teams with the tools and insights needed to drive collective impact toward change by:
    • Building consensus on their region’s unique assets, capabilities, and comparative advantages;
    • Defining a strategy from MIT REAP frameworks that supports their regional local enterprise partnership (LEP);
    • Identifying (at least) one initial key strategic intervention for all regional stakeholders to collaborate on and drive forward.
  • In partnership with BEIS and Loughborough University, to assess the outcomes and impact of UK teams’ strategic interventions on local business productivity growth.

The MIT REAP UK Focus program was a one year engagement, launching in March 2020 and concluding on February 4, 2021.

At its first workshop in London, the UK team set a goal to work closely with Leeds City, UK team members to help develop and launch local strategies. As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, MIT REAP UK swiftly pivoted its program to the virtual environment, providing collaborative tools and strategies to support the six communities with immediate and ongoing economic recovery.

At a virtual workshop 2, September 28-29, 2020, MIT REAP UK reported that it made significant progress over the summer, despite the pandemic. UK teams reported on their strategies for economic recovery, ‘building back better,’ and leveling-up their communities – informed by MIT REAP frameworks and their own extensive research.


MIT REAP Focus UK Faculty

Fiona Murray
William Porter Professor of Entrepreneurship, MIT Sloan School of Management - Associate Dean for Innovation and Inclusion
Philip Budden
Senior Lecturer & Diplomatic Advisor, MIT Sloan School of Management
Active Alumni

MIT REAP Focus UK Cohort

Cheshire, Lancashire and Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) represent a coterminous North West Coastal Arc geography with common challenges and opportunities as evidenced in their Local Industrial Strategies (LIS’), Strategic Economic Plans (SEPs) and Science & Innovation Audits (SIAs).

They are part of the MIT REAP UK program to assist their partners with understanding their regional complementarity and equip them to implement a strategy at scale for transitioning to an innovative digital and low carbon economy.

Team Members

Miranda Kirschel MBE

Head of Business and Innovation, Cumbria LEP

Matt Wright

Program Manager
Innovation Manager, Lancaster University, UCLan, Edge Hill University & Lancashire LEP

Andy Devaney

Director of Business Innovation, Cheshire & Warrington LEP

Graeme Bristow

Site Leader, Astra Zeneca

Steve Fogg

Chairman, Lancashire LEP, NP11 Board, Ex BAE Systems

Gary Guest

Fund Director, FW Capital & Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund

Rick Holland

North West Regional Manager, Innovate UK

Mark Johnson

Head of Strategy and Policy, Cumbria LEP

Duncan Steel

Chief Technology Officer, Sellafield Ltd

Stuart MacLennan

CEO, Cows & Co Energy Ltd

Becky Stuttard

Non-Executive Director, PortSwigger Ltd

Dion Williams

Director of Research, Enterprise & Innovation, Lancaster University

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The Heart of the South West LEP, is a partnership between Local and District Authorities, Higher and Further Education Institutions, and the private sector across Plymouth, Devon, Somerset, and Torbay.

They are joining the MIT REAP UK program for the opportunity to get support that is tailored to their local business environment and raise firm-level productivity. Utilizing the fact that the HotSW is at a stage where it is working to translate evidence into effective policy.

Team Members

Chris Evans

Champion/Program Manager
Director of Regional Engagement, University of Exeter

Sally Basker

Chief Executive, Exeter Science Park

Stuart Brocklehurst

Chief Executive, Applegate Marketplace Ltd

Adriana Curca

Senior Economic Development Officer, Heart of the South West LEP

Tom Egan

Head of Business Development & Capability Management, Leonardo Helicopters

Jennifer Milligan

Senior Innovation Funding Manager, University of Plymouth

Alex Parmley

Chief Executive, South Somerset District Council

Steve Pascoe

Head of Innovation, Engineering Services, Marine & Technology, Babcock International Group

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With an economy worth £24.5bn in GVA per annum, equivalent to around a quarter of the East Midlands total, Leicester and Leicestershire is home to over 42,000 businesses. Using a robust evidence base that draws on a mix of published data, forecasts, consultations, and strategy documents as well as existing studies and business surveys, a work of the Local industrial strategy nearing completion.

Innovation across the LLEP area is supported by the presence and associated activities of its three universities, that are leading research and proactively engage with local communities and businesses. Their involvement with the MIT REAP UK Program is aimed at receiving the expertise, resources and support to enable the LLEP to work towards developing a local innovation ecosystem framework focused on interdependent roles of innovative and entrepreneurial capacity.

Team Members

Sue Tilley

Program Manager, Economic Strategy Manager - Business, Leicester and Leicestershire LEP

Julian Bowrey

Regional Manager, East and South East Midlands for Innovate UK., UKRI

Josh Dale

Enterprise and Innovation Centre Manager, De Montfort University

Gary Dimmock

Partnership Manager, Loughborough University

Helen Donnellan

Director Enterprise and Business Services, De Montfort University (DMU)

Stephen Gould

Managing Director, Everards Brewery

Jen Fensome

Director of Research & Enterprise, Loughborough University

Rachel Granger

Professor Urban Economies, Leicester Castle Business School |Director, Creative and Cultural Industries Group|Site Director, AHRC Midlands 4 Cities |Local + Lead - Smart Cities, DMU

Andrea Gray

Managing Director, PPLPRS

Nermine Habib

Enterprise Zone Project Officer at LLEP, LLEP

Anne-Marie Hunt

Director Commercial Banking, NatWest

Sajjad Khan

Managing Director, Aristec Ltd

Trevor Maxwell

Regional Head of Business Development Business Banking Midlands and East, NatWest

Lewis Stringer

Senior Manager, UK Network – East & South-East Midlands, BBB

Sheetal Sanghvi

Partner, RSM LLP

Anjuu Trevedi

Head of Regional Business Engagment, University of Leicester

Sandra Wiggins

Director, DPI Ltd

Joshua Winfield

Business Builder Manager, NatWest

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Overseen by the North East LEP Board and feeding into the LEP Business Growth, Skills and Innovation Advisory Boards the North East LEP core team consists of senior representation from the North East LEP (including the SME Board Representative), regional universities of Sunderland, Newcastle, Northumbria and Durham, North of Tyne Mayoral Combined Authority (Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland), North East Combined Authority (Sunderland, South Tyneside, Gateshead, County Durham) and representatives from regional SMEs and industrial clusters.

They are part of the MIT REAP UK program to build on their existing evidence base to guide the establishment of their ecosystem that will drive the delivery of the North East Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) and level up entrepreneurial activity and firm level innovation and productivity.

Team Members

Colin Bell

Business Growth Director, North East Local Enterprise Partnership

Dinah Jackson

Progam Manager
Programme Manager, North East Local Enterprise Partnership

Maria Antoniou

Economic insight, Economic Adviser

David Charles

Enterprise Educator, Professor of Enterprise and Innovation

Leo Haigh

Government Relations Manager, Sage UK Ltd

Jason Hobbs

Chief Executive, North East Fund

Leon Howe

Durham City Incubation Manager, Durham City Incubator for North East Combined Authority

Ammar Mirza

Entrepreneur, AmmarM (UK) Limited

Gareth Trainer

Assistant Director (Enterprise and Entrepreneurship), University of Newcastle upon Tyne

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Sheffield City Region is focusing its Strategic Economic Plan on supporting the development of collaborative business ecosystems that cultivate entrepreneurial cultures and nurture innovative companies. They are working to establish new partnerships with businesses, unlocking growth contingent upon social impact whilst supporting our transition to a low carbon economy.

Taking part in the MIT REAP UK program they are aiming to support the SCR ecosystem by acting as a catalyst in support of the development of innovation districts in areas such as Advanced Manufacturing, the development of effective supply chains and the emerging innovation ecosystems that support them.

Team Members

Dave Smith

Chief Executive, Sheffield City Region LEP

Paul Johnson

Program Manager
Senior Economic Policy Manager, Sheffield City Region LEP

Ceri Batchelder

Owner, Connect and Create

Neil Bradburne

Area Business Manager, Barclays

Steve Foxley

Executive Director, AMRC, University of Sheffield

Chris Lowe

Associate Dean Business and Enterprise, Sheffield Hallam University

Katie Johnston

Director, PWC

Sharon Kemp

Chief Executive, Rotherham Council

Navid Quraishi

Senior Manager, Rolls-Royce

Richard Stubbs

CEO, Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network / Board Member, Sheffield City Region LEP

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Formed with senior leaders representative of the West Midlands’ ecosystem who bring insights and networks, the West Midlands Combined Authority is focused on how to develop the ecosystem to increase SME engagement and innovation capacity as a key driver of productivity, particularly in the manufacturing supply chains sector. Their involvement in MIT REAP is geared to help strengthen their collaboration to address the West Midlands’ productivity gap by increasing process innovation by SMEs within the manufacturing supply chains.

Team Members

Andy Argyle

Head of Devolved Government, KPMG

Ryan Cartwright

Regional Manager, British Business Bank

Chloe Billing

Data Rockstar
Research Lead, The University of Birmingham

Jamie Elliott

Project Manager
Innovation Lead, West Midlands Combined Authority

Farzan Bakti

Private Capital, KPMG

Ewa Bloch

Regional Manager, InnovateUK

Henrietta Brealey

Director, Greater Birmingham Chambers

Gerard Campbell

Senior Manager, KPMG

Dan Carins

Account Manager and Productivity Lead, Growth Hub, Black Country Growth LEP

Corin Crane

Chief Executive, Black Country Chambers

Wayne Langford

Director, West Midlands Combined Universities

Andrew Mair

Midlands Areospace Alliance, Midlands Aerospace Alliance

Ian Mclaughlan

Growth Hub Manager, Greater Birmingham and Solihul LEP

Alex Toft

Director, Minerva Business Angels

Pam Waddell

Director, Innovation Alliance West Midlands

Paula Whitehouse

Director, Aston Centre for Growth, Aston University

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“Participating in the MIT REAP Focus UK pilot was a dynamic experience for the SCR Mayoral Combined Authority. MIT REAP insight on how we can support our innovation-driven enterprises has been invaluable as we enhance our business support offer and deliver the inclusive innovation-led growth objectives of our recently published Strategic Economic Plan."

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Paul Johnson, Senior Economic Policy Manager, Mayoral Combined Authority Executive, Sheffield City Region