Our Story

Connected Innovation programme began with the recognition of the need to strengthen links across Norfolk and Suffolk’s innovation landscape. Since then, it has grown into the largest region of connected hubs and innovation centres, research institutes and universities in the UK. We also have developed dedicated clusters, where businesses and academics are collaborating to produce world-leading research and products.

This is our story so far:

2017
November

Norfolk and Suffolk Economic Strategy (2017) highlights the need to “link up our innovation hubs and wider business support offer.”

2020
March

The concept for the programme is proposed at the Innovate UK 2020 regional conference, held at John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park.

July

The project is incorporated into the delivery plans of the New Anglia Innovation Board and Council for Digital Tech. It is endorsed by the Innovation Board at their meeting on 21st July, with all major Norfolk and Suffolk innovation hubs and County Councils represented.

November

The proposals for Connected Innovation are developed in more detail. Funding opportunities are identified, and bids are prepared and submitted.

2021
January

Successfully awarded funding from Suffolk Inclusive Growth Investment Fund (SIGIF) and Norfolk Strategic Fund (NSF), enabling the project to officially start in early 2021.

March

Innovation Hubs Coordinator appointed.

Project Commences with 12 Innovation Hubs – led and coordinated by New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership

April

The LEP team establishes the Hub Peer Network, meeting bi-monthly. This is supported by a dedicated LinkedIn group and social media promotion.

May

Hub network grows to 16 Innovation Hubs (Norwich Research Park Institutes)

July

We host our successful launch event- ‘Connected Innovation: collaboration, convergence and clean growth’ on 13th July. Learn more here.

We also launch our Innovation Prospectus.

2022
February

Tech Suite installed at Hethel Engineering Centre.

Hub Pilot Events commence.

March

Clarity Campaign launched to promote innovation in the East on a national and international level.

Hub network grows to 18 (Broadland Food Innovation Centre & @inc Bury St Edmunds)

May

Hub network grows to 20 (BT & @inc Felixstowe).

July

Hub network grows to 23 (Woodbridge and Sudbury Innovation Labs, Akcela).

2023
March

Six events hosted with delivery partner TechEast. They covered themes such as clean energy and emerging technologies, offshore wind, digital solutions, and advanced manufacturing and engineering.

Connected Innovation Conference held at Adastral Park, Suffolk on 10th March.

The new Innovation Prospectus is launched.

April

Hub network grows to 25 (Freeport East and Framlingham Technology Centre).

July

The programme gains funding support from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) to continue and scale up activity, particularly the development of innovation clusters.

October

First meeting of the Connected Innovation Investment and Finance Sub-Group which officially draws together venture capital firms, investors, and business support organisations seeking to back innovation in the region.

New Connected Innovation brand and website launched.

December

A new action plan is created by Innovate UK, the national innovation agency, and New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership to give innovators and entrepreneurs in Norfolk and Suffolk improved access to expertise, tools and support to help them grow.

2024
January

A Space Enterprise Lab providing users with the latest collaborative technology, resources and expertise launches at Adastral Park in Suffolk. Becoming the 26th hub in the Connected Innovation network.

Ready to make your mark?

Are you a business, hub, or investor interested in getting involved in Connected Innovation? We want to hear from you!