Dave Valler, Reader in Spatial Planning at Oxford Brookes, has been invited by Oxfordshire County Council to act as Project Manager for the Oxford/Oxfordshire ‘City Deal Evidence Base’ underpinning the City-Deal bid that was approved by the government on the 18th February.

Diamond aerial view

The City-Deal bid brings together all six Oxfordshire councils, the two universities in the county, the science facilities at Culham and Harwell, and the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership in a unique joint proposal that seeks to boost the knowledge based economy (KBE) and create a new partnership for growth.

Over the past two years, Dave Valler has been involved in a number of projects relating to the growth of the Oxford/Oxfordshire economy. He initially received funding from the RICS Education Trust (July 2011-July 2012) for a pilot project titled: “Planning for Growth: The Implications of Localism for Science Vale UK”, which examined the growth challenges of major science spaces such as Harwell Oxford and Milton Park in southern Oxfordshire. Building on this he worked with Shared Intelligence Economic Development Consultancy towards the production of Oxford City Council’s new ‘Economic Development and Growth Strategy’. This led to his invitation from Oxfordshire County Council to act as Project Manager for the Oxford/Oxfordshire ‘City Deal Evidence Base’ which underpins the City-Deal bid.

Research has shown that Oxfordshire has benefitted less from knowledge-based growth in comparison with some other high-tech areas. In terms of leading global standards, the Oxfordshire high-tech cluster remains relatively small scale and while high-tech spin-out activity compares very well against other leading areas, the subsequent consolidation of medium and larger-scale enterprises is less apparent.

The City-Deal partnership of business, Universities and research institutions, the Local Authorities and the Local Enterprise Partnership seek to accelerate the growth of the KBE by creating a new ‘knowledge economy spine’. This will be based on a network of locations supported by new enterprise and innovation centres and development in the city-region’s principal economic nodes: Oxford City, Bicester, and Science Vale UK in the southern part of the county. The centres will create new connections and act as catalysts for ‘open source’ knowledge and business support. Connectivity will be key and the hubs will be supported by first class infrastructure; ultra-fast broadband, simplified planning, A34/A40 road and rail investment.