Imperial launches Centre for Sectoral Economic Performance


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Imperial is launching a new research centre to find ways to make the UK economy more productive and competitive. 

The Centre for Sectoral Economic Performance is funded by nearly £29million over a 10-year period in philanthropic support from the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, founded by Lord Sainsbury. It will bring together the UK’s top engineers, scientists and economists with the UK’s science- and technology-based industries to co-design globally competitive strategies. 

The UK is faced with a dramatic slowdown in its rate of economic growth which is largely due to the declining rate of innovation and competitiveness of key sectors of the economy, a problem that is common across G7 countries.  

"The Centre will harness Imperial’s strengths in understanding emerging technologies and their potential implications for business, society, and government.”  Lord Sainsbury Founder of Gatsby Charitable Foundation

Many countries are responding with a more active industrial policy to help drive economic growth. Notably, the US Administration’s CHIPS and Science Act and Inflation Reduction Act are designed to bolster US competitiveness in key sectors such as semiconductors and renewable energy. 

The Centre – a joint initiative between Imperial’s Faculty of Engineering and Imperial College Business School and supported by the Imperial Policy Forum – will focus on the UK’s existing and emerging high-value industries across engineering, life sciences, and data science. Academics will work to translate rigorous research into industry sector strategies that address both company-level and national competitiveness, working with companies across different sectors and their supply chains, alongside government. 

Imperial is one of the world’s top performing universities and was rated best for research by the UKRI’s Research England. The research from the Centre will deepen knowledge in value-generation, innovation, and productivity, as well as developing recommendations for action by industry, government, and academia. 

David Sainsbury, Lord Sainsbury of Turville, former Minister of Science and Innovation (1998-2006) said: “The goal for the Centre for Sectoral Economic Performance is to investigate ways of improving the competitiveness of key sectors of the UK economy. It will work with industries and government to develop strategies and policies that address both firm-level and national competitiveness. To do this, the Centre will harness Imperial’s strengths in understanding emerging technologies and their potential implications for business, society, and government.” 

Professor Hugh Brady, President of Imperial College London, said: “The UK economy is at risk of falling behind its competitors. This new Centre will develop sector strategies with industry and government to help the UK get its economy back on track by boosting its innovation capacity, productivity and competitiveness.”  

Professor Mary Ryan, Vice Provost (Research and Enterprise) at Imperial College London, said: “Imperial carries out world-leading research in engineering and business. Our new Centre for Sectoral Economic Performance is an opportunity to combine this expertise to address one of the country’s most pressing challenges – economic growth and productivity. We look forward to working with industry, government, and key stakeholders to develop ways to boost growth in the UK’s key existing and emerging sectors.” 

Building on sector reports 

Earlier in the year academic experts from Imperial published recommendations to improve the UK’s competitiveness in Biopharmaceuticals, Medtech and Telecommunications.The 'Sectoral Systems of Innovation and the UK's Competitiveness' reports assessed the value-added per capita of each sector and how they compare internationally.   

The reports, authored by academic experts from Imperial and funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, identified technological solutions and policy recommendations for government and industry to make the sectors more innovative and increase their value added.  


Stephen Johns

Stephen Johns
Communications Division

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