Oxford to Cambridge Partner Bulletin

July 19, 2023

I am delighted to have started my role as Managing Director of the Partnership and particularly pleased to have had an opportunity to meet with some of our Board members and stakeholders.

My focus this summer is to meet as many of you as possible, to listen to your views on priorities and challenges, and to build my knowledge and understanding of the opportunities across the region.  As you would expect, I have also met with our Chairman, Dipesh J Shah OBE, and we are building a similar induction programme for Dipesh.

You may have seen last week’s update on Board appointments.  We are extremely pleased to welcome Dr Barbara Ghinelli and Professor Lynette Ryals OBE to the Board as non-executive directors. We will shortly be recommencing the search for a third NED to represent the environment brief and will keep you informed on progress.

One of my early reflections on the Partnership is that greater clarity is required on its purpose and added value.  With this in mind, we have commenced work on a Strategy and will use the working Mission statement (as agreed by the Board in June), our evidence base and workstreams to guide this work. Most importantly, we will be guided by your views.  A progress update will be provided to the Board at its next meeting in September.

I am keen that you are kept regularly updated on the substance of the Partnership’s work.  With this in mind, the focus of this bulletin is on our workstreams and the excellent work which the team, our working groups and partners have been undertaking in recent months.

Please do drop me a line if you would like a conversation or if you want to share your views.  My email is richard.hutchins@cherwell-dc.gov.uk

Many thanks,

Dr Richard Hutchins

Managing Director

As a reminder Partnership information, including Board papers and meeting notes, is published on our information page.

Progamme Update

Chaired by Cllr Bridget Smith, Environment sub-group colleagues are developing a pipeline of projects to contribute towards the region’s environmentally progressive ambitions.

A work programme will be proposed to the September Board.

Attention is firmly placed on assisting partners to respond to the environmental opportunities and sustainable development challenges faced. There’s no doubt that working together to draw from our region’s expertise, innovation strengths and helping partners to collaborate to embed solutions are key to achieving better results, faster.

Potential projects include (not limited to):

  • Strengthening our strategic Partnerships, for example with the Environment Agency, to facilitate deeper cross-boundary working to address significant water-related issues in the region. This includes supporting pilot projects that apply water modelling techniques to achieve step-change progress in water planning.
  • Creating an interconnected network of woodlands and forests, as well as planting to increase tree canopy cover – this is a live bid for which we require and welcome conversations with interested local authority partners.
  • Toolkits to embed the great examples of best practice of enhancing nature and biodiversity in the built environment, and on rewilding.
  • Supporting environmental stewardship in farming and agriculture.
  • Assisting with the development, and implementation of, government-supported nature-finance initiatives.

Nathan Vear is the OCP’s Programme Lead for the Environment Sub-group programme of activity. He works closely with Cllr Smith, and Liz Watts, the sub-group’s Senior Responsible Officer. You can contract Nathan @ nathan.vear@kapaciti.com.

The Innovation and Economy sub-group met for its first group meeting at the end of May. This sub-group is chaired by Peter Horrocks CBE.

Partnership members will know that in May, we appointed ekosgen to work with us to deliver a regional investment atlas and prospectus.

Throughout June and July, we complete the inception phase of this work: scoping and evidence base. To date, the team has hosted seven engagement sessions, seeking Partner input to fine-tune the project’s methodology, the stakeholder engagement process throughout the whole project phase, identify clusters and, to define critical success factors of future investible propositions. Thank you to everyone who’s been involved in this first round of project meetings.

The inception phase report and finalised workplan will be ready by the end of July.

The next phase of the study will be to develop an Index of Assets. This will include creating a data bank, a sector deep dive and analysis using AI technologies and extensive place engagement.  The list and timeline of the different Investment Atlas project phases is published on our Information Page.

Regional evidence and analysis

Underpinning our economy and environment priorities and projects, we continue to explore cross-boundary data and evidence needs with Partners and stakeholders.

The emerging Data Observatory proposal aims to create a service to provide transparent, unbiased, high quality economic and environmental data and analysis. The evidence will be updated frequently and will be resourced centrally to provide research and analytical capability to support Partners in their policy, business case development and project monitoring.

As we continue to scope out requirements, early stakeholder feedback indicates ambition for this Observatory to go beyond common features of UK and international equivalents. There is interest in the Observatory being a platform to share best practice and collaborative research opportunities. Therefore, we are engaged in conversations with strategic partners and are planning for the Observatory to act as a long-term platform for OCP research projects, such as the Investment Atlas and Local Natural Capital Plan.

We will be moving towards a formal case ready for the September Board meeting.

Placi Espejo is the Innovation and Economy programme lead and Arthur Le Geyt is leading the business case work to create a regional Data Observatory. Both colleagues work with Hilary Chipping, the Sub-group’s Senior Responsible Officer. You can reach Placi @ placi.espejo@cherwell-dc.gov.uk and Arthur on @ arthur.legeyt@semlep.com

At the June Shadow Board meeting, the Board approved work to commence the branding and identity for the Partnership, a key project within our communications programme. A call is out with our Board members for representatives to join an informal Steering Group to guide this project.

The first phase of activity will be to be define the goals, objectives and to agree the brand strategy. This will consider the purpose, needs and ambitions of the Partnership and our requirements to establish a regional brand that can compete for investment on a global platform.

We are progressing procurement for a brand partner to support us as we engage with Partners and other stakeholders.

Karen Clarke, Head of Communications is leading on this work, with Richard Hutchins chairing the steering group. Karen can be reached @ karen.clarke@semlep.com.