New research demonstrates value of R&D partnerships in boosting prosperity in North West

Research by Oxford Economics has revealed the extent that BAE Systems contributes to the economy in Lancashire through jobs, research & development and supply chains. In addition to developing skills and technologies critical for the defence of the nation, the research highlights that BAE Systems’ operations are helping to drive increased productivity and support the Government’s levelling up agenda.

The University of Manchester is one of only six Strategic Partner Universities that BAE Systems engages with and the only one based in the North-West. The partnership is governed by a strategic framework agreement to establish a long-term relationship in research, education and consultancy.

Speaking at an event today alongside Charles Woodburn, the CEO of BAE Systems, and Jeremy Quin, Minister of State for Defence Procurement, Professor Luke Gerghiou,Deputy Vice-President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester said: “The UK is not punching its full weight in defence R&D because government spend is too concentrated, with over half performed in the South of England. This reduces the diversity of ideas which lead to innovation.

“Having a greater range of talent and a more diverse workforce is even more important as we enter the cyber world. Levelling up this investment will not just bring more quality jobs to the North, it will also give us better defence.”

The University and BAE have notably worked together in the aerospace sector with design and testing benefitting from the University’s geographical location, close to the BAE sites at Warton and Samlesbury. The partnership is also closely linked on the ground-breaking MAGMA project which is working to re-design aircraft as we know them.

The relationship has evolved over the last couple of years to expand into data science, AI and cyber through the establishment of the Data Analytics Accelerator program, a five year sponsored program initiated in 2021 to support upskill of BAE staff in the areas of data science and support acceleration of research in this field.

BAE Systems employs approximately 10,000 people across Lancashire. Spending £70 million with more than 220 suppliers in the region in 2020, the Company supported almost 1,000 jobs in the local supply chain.

BAE Systems’ significant UK footprint across more than 50 sites and extensive supply chain mean it supported 143,000 jobs across the country and contributed more than £10 billion to UK GDP, equivalent to 0.5% of the domestic economy.

Charles Woodburn, BAE Systems Chief Executive, said: “Our sector not only supports our national defence and security, but also provides unparalleled economic value which drives the UK’s prosperity. The investment we make in highly skilled jobs, research & development and our extensive supply chain supports thousands of companies and tens of thousands of people and the communities in which they live.”

More than two-thirds of the Company’s UK employees are in engineering-related roles and the research found that the highly skilled and technical nature of their work results in an average productivity of £83,000 per employee. That’s 17% more than the UK manufacturing sector and almost 30% higher than the average across the whole economy.

/Public Release. View in full here.