13 June 2020
Silverstone Park Commercial Director Roz Bird has again pushed for the Oxford Cambridge Arc to be called the UK’s ‘High-tech Supercluster’ to help “break down barriers, encourage collaboration and maximise the opportunities”.
Roz was a guest panellist during Built Environment Network’s ‘Oxford Cambridge Arc Development Plans’ webinar, viewed by senior developers and commerce figures.
When asked how much of a voice the private sector had in the destiny of the Arc (a government earmarked ‘growth corridor’), Roz said this in part will depend on better communication from the public sector, including local government.
And, whilst the phrase ‘Oxford Cambridge Arc’ helps promote UK plc overseas, she expressed concern that the current title “does nothing for local people on the doorstep”.
“We still have an opportunity to get that right (by using the High-tech Supercluster name),” Roz added, before showing how the ethos behind MEPC’s Silverstone Park business model has been successfully applied to launch and grow the Silverstone Technology Cluster.
She later said: “The reason the name is important is because you need a name that breaks down barriers and makes everyone feel equal – when people feel they have a chance of being heard and have a part to play, they come together more readily and that is when the opportunity is maximised.
“Business people, in the region, sharing confidently, on a level playing field, will increase the conversations, encourage more collaboration and increase UK productivity more quickly.
“A lot of people still think that the Oxford Cambridge Arc is about helping people in Oxford and Cambridge work more closely together when in fact it is an ambitious vision to maximise the potential of the whole area, between and including Oxford and Cambridge, which I believe will result in improved economic performance for the whole country.”
Roz also said that government should “throw challenges at the Arc” that would lead to both the public and private sectors working more closely.
“That would get the high-tech clusters, research establishments, science parks and local authorities, across the Arc’s geography, together in a room, thinking about how to fix things collaboratively,” she explained.
“Crucially, you need to take young people with you, so they aspire to be a part of it into the future.
“With the business opportunity properly understood we will all then be asking: ‘do we have housing in the right locations, is the education system fit for purpose and what about roads, rail, the transport system generally?’
“The tail wouldn’t be wagging the dog any more…”