How our city is up there with Oxbridge for innovative ideas
DERBY has been named as a top 10 city for innovation by an independent think tank.
The Centre for Cities Outlook 2013 report, published yesterday, has ranked the city sixth out of 64 towns and cities in terms of coming up with ideas that can boost the local economy.
Researchers compiled the table by measuring the number of patents registered per 100,000 residents.
Using the latest data from 2011, it found that, in Derby, an average of eight patents were approved per 100,000 people. Topping the list was Cambridge, which had 94.
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Examples of innovating Derby companies include Surescreen Diagnostics, of Prime Parkway, which designs and manufacturers devices that test for pregnancy, fertility, drugs, alcohol and a variety of medical conditions.
One of its latest products is an edible strip that can help alleviate hangovers.
Garrandale, of Alfreton Road, has developed the GraffStop, which is anti-graffiti paint, which can reduce damage caused by vandals, and Daniel Krywyj, of JD7, in Nottingham Road, has developed a probe that can be fed into water pipes to accurately detect the extent and position of cracks and leaks.
Aigis Blast Protection, of Wayzgoose Drive, has come up with a containment unit that can absorb the force of an exploding detonator. It also develops footwear that can withstand blasts.
The Centre for Cities report says: "Innovation is a driver of long-run economic growth. Finding new or better ways of making goods or delivering services improves the performance of businesses which in turn increases the capacity of city economies.
"We note that using patent data is an imperfect measure of innovation. There is no way to verify that the innovative activity happened at the address on the application.
"However, while patents do not capture all forms of innovation, they do act as a good proxy."
It is thought that Derby's focus on innovation has helped the city through the worst of the economic downturn. The Centre for Cities report compared how UK towns and cities fared in the first half of the downturn in 2008 and 2009 with the second half, from 2009 to 2012.
It concludes that Derby was one of 22 cities that had seen little or no change. Nottingham was among the cities which had seen a fall in performance.
Wages in Derby also held up well, according to the report. Centre for Cities found that Derby, along with Wigan and Ipswich, saw the largest increase in weekly wages in 2012, rising by more than £23 a week in real terms.
Derby was also identified as a top 10 city in terms of broadband coverage.
The city was placed seventh in the table in terms of the percentage of postcodes able to receive super-fast broadband. It found that 80% of postcodes in the city were able to receive the service. The place with the best coverage was Luton.
John Forkin, managing director of Marketing Derby, which promotes the city as a place to invest, said: "What this report reiterates is that Derby has changed – and is a genuine high-tech city.
"It is one of the top cities for innovation, earnings and broadband.
"It is being mentioned in the same breath as renowned research cities like Cambridge, Edinburgh and Oxford. This independent report underlines Derby's claim as an innovative city. This innovation has helped the city survive the recession.
"Although Derby's economy has not grown, it hasn't declined – unlike Nottingham, where an over-reliance on the public sector has had an impact."
Last year's Centre for Cities Outlook report placed Derby rock bottom out of the 64 towns and cities for the number of people of working age without any formal qualifications.
Researchers found that 30,600 people, or 19.5% of the city's total population who are able to work, had no qualifications.
Mr Forkin said: "I think there remains a skills challenge in Derby. Although this year's report has not focused on this, we are mindful that there is work to be done.
"And some positive things are being done in terms of our universities and colleges working more closely with the business community to ensure we have a better qualified workforce."