The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has today published online its new Internationalisation Strategy for the county. Launched to coincide with the government’s International Trade Week, the full 88-page strategy, and a separate 20-page Executive Summary, outline how Lancashire is currently in terms of global commercial activity. They also highlight how it can significantly grow its economy through a more proactive, targeted and integrated approach to international markets, and by promoting dynamic investment opportunities to global investors.
At the heart of the 10-year programme is a focus on five specific internationalisation pillars: Exports, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Capital Investments, Innovation, and the Visitor Economy. These pillars have been used to benchmark and assess how the county’s existing and emerging sector strengths, key assets and resources relate to current global trends and anticipated international demand.
This analysis has then informed a suite of short, medium and long-term actions which are designed to make Lancashire’s economy more globally active, internationally competitive, and generate more overseas investment.
Many of the opportunities highlighted are directly linked to Lancashire’s core industrial sectors. These include aerospace and advanced manufacturing, energy and low carbon technologies, food production, tourism, and the digital industries. In addition, the strategy identifies global growth potential in a range of emerging markets, such as cybersecurity and defence, future mobility, and health Innovation.
For each key sector – and for each of the five pillars – there is extensive qualitative and quantitative evidence which underpins the report’s strategic recommendations. This includes the results of extensive consultations with Lancashire business owners and other stakeholder, global market intelligence, competitor analysis, and trend modelling, which is pertinent to the Lancashire economy.
The strategy then sets out a series of sector-specific baselines, recommended tactics to increase international engagement, and potential growth projections. It also highlights some of Lancashire’s current weaknesses with regards to maximising immediate and future international opportunities.
For example, based on GDP, the volume of exported goods from Lancashire is lower than the national average (27.4% vs 30.7%). And while the exporting of services sees Lancashire outperform the North West average (14% vs 11%), this is still below the national average of 15%.
Across other international performance measures, such as the levels of FDI, the volume of global capital investments, and number of international visitors, Lancashire’s share is also proportionally lower than the national average in relation to the size of its economy.
To address some of these more holistic and historic challenges, the Lancashire Internationalisation Strategy sets out several approaches to help boost the county’s global reputation, and help increase opportunities for more international engagement.
These include finding different ways to capitalise more on Lancashire’s proximity to Manchester, Liverpool, and the Lake District and encouraging more ‘friends and family’ visits linked to Lancashire’s large South Asian diaspora.
Increasing Lancashire’s share of the global business tourism market through hosting more international conferences, exhibitions and trade shows is another strategic recommendation, as is utilising our universities’ strong global links through their international student cohorts, academic networks, and overseas campuses.
It further recommends Lancashire promotes itself globally as a high-tech, multi-disciplinary and innovation-based testbed. This is based on the county’s proliferation of world-class university R&D assets and industry-led centres of excellence, many of which are directly aligned to the needs of several fast-growth sectors.
Examples cited include cyberspace and telecoms, sustainable construction, green energy and cleantech, drones and future flight, 5G and private networks, digital health and medtech, agritech, and decarbonised transport.
The strategy goes on to point out that the county also has growing capabilities in several cross-cutting disciplines – including cybersecurity, low carbon technologies and digitalisation – which are all anticipated to be in high demand across a significant number of industries in the future.
The LEP’s Chair Debbie Francis OBE said: “This document is the first deep dive we’ve done into Lancashire’s global economic capacity and capabilities for many years. But as well as a thorough assessment of where the county is now, both in a post-Covid and post-Brexit context, what’s really exciting is the roadmap it sets out for Lancashire’s future internationally.
“That includes the international opportunities being driven by both our traditional industrial strengths and through numerous emerging markets, together with our growing cluster of word-class R&D assets and in-demand, cross-cutting technology specialisms.
“When you also consider that UK businesses who export tend to thrive far more than those who don’t, and foreign companies who locate here are generally more productive, more innovative, and pay higher wages, you can see how becoming more globally engaged could help us rapidly scale-up many sections of Lancashire’s economy.
“What’s also important is that this report highlights many of the challenges we face to fulfil our global potential. This includes everything from a need to get more of our SMEs exporting, and securing more FDI projects, to attracting more international visitors and promoting the Lancashire brand more effectively in overseas markets.
“Having such an honest and evidence-based analysis of both our strengths and weaknesses also means we can set ourselves realistic targets and measure our progress as the strategy rolls out.
“I’d therefore encourage anyone interested in helping Lancashire make its mark globally to read the report and think about what they can do to help us realise our ambitions, while potentially boosting their own bottom line in the process.” You can download a copies of the full Lancashire Internationalisation Strategy and the Executive Summary here.Uncategorised