Norfolk’s Innovation Economy

Having grown up locally, I’ve seen first hand how for too long historically our area has been treated by successive Governments as a ‘rural backwater’ with very little investment or recognition in Whitehall that the Eastern region is fast becoming home to some of the most innovative companies in Europe, especially within the fields of food and agriculture, medicine, cleantech and energy –the ‘life science’ sector I’ve been determined to champion since becoming Mid Norfolk MP.

That’s why my mission when I was first elected a Member of Parliament – having spent fifteen years starting new technology companies in the Eastern region – was to put the Norfolk Innovation Economy firmly on the map.

New Anglia Cluster

Over recent years, Norfolk and the wider New Anglia region has become a cluster of so many world class hubs of science, innovation and enterprise.

Here in our part of Norfolk we have notable hubs including:

  • Norwich Research Park: One of the most recognised centres in the UK and Europe, the NRP is home to pioneering work in fields such as Gut Medicine (the Quadram Institute), Genomics (the Earlham Institute), Plant Breeding (the John Innes Centre and the Sainsbury Laboratory), Biomedical Research (the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital) and Clinical Trials (National Institute for Health and Care Research).
  • Easton Food Enterprise Park: Fast becoming one of the leading Food Hubs in the country, Easton Food Enterprise Park is already home to the world’s largest vertical farm, with many more sector leading businesses now based on site, and innovative companies like Poultec in nearby Mattishall.
  • Hingham Enterprise Park: home to world class businesses like Mirus Aircraft Seating, Rodtech and many others.
  • Hethel Engineering Centre: now home to over 60 high-growth start-ups across the Advanced Manufacturing, Materials Science, Automotive, Digital and Space Tech Sectors – in the world famous Lotus engineering cluster
  • A11 Tech Corridor: A rapidly developing corridor of innovation that already boasts advanced manufacturing, engineering and technology in the likes of Wymondham, Attleborough, Snetterton and Thetford – at companies like Barley Chalu (one of the UK’s leading aluminium treatment and finishing specialists), Watermist, Fireworks and Baxter.

That’s why I try and visit a business every Constituency Friday, and as many local companies and entrepreneurs each year as possible – shining a light on the progress they are making in advanced manufacturing, computing and technology, AI, space and so much more. (See more here and here

Too few policy makers in Whitehall are aware of the breadth of this expertise and enterprise driving huge economic opportunities in our part of the world.

That’s why as Minister for Innovation at the new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, I have launched a major reform of the way HMG supports innovation to focus more on the PLACES – the “Clusters” in which the Innovation economy flourishes – and why I was so pleased to lead the latest HMG Cluster Visit here to our part of the world to champion and showcase the Norfolk and New Anglia Agri/Bio/Cleantech Cluster. 

By better connecting the hubs in Suffolk:

  • Freeport East: An incredible project that is already transforming Harwich and Felixstowe and acting as a facilitator for great strides in Green Hydrogen, AI and Robotics.
  • Adastral Park: The heart of the UK’s digital ecosystem, Adastral Park is home to high-tech telecommunication and technology companies including BT.

with Norfolk – and Cambridge – we can drive a seriously exciting era of prosperity in our area which does NOT require vast housing estates everywhere, and instead encourages small businesses and business parks to set up in our vibrant villages and thriving, revived Towns. 

We need to be better at telling the world that there is more to East Anglia than Cambridge. We need to highlight the whole New Anglia Cluster of world class high growth businesses.

That’s why, as Minister of State at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, I brought a senior delegation from across Government to see the opportunities here in the New Anglia Cluster first-hand. (See more about my New Anglia Cluster visit here).


Improved connectivity is KEY to growing this innovation and enterprise economy, which is why I continue to champion:

  • universal broadband and 5G coverage as a UTILITY
  • upgrade of the rail links between Norwich-Cambridge and Kings Lynn (see more here)
  • Wymondham station as a gateway hub to the Norfolk Research Triangle (see more here and here)
  • enhanced bus services
  • full dualling of the A47 (in addition to the full dualling of the A11 already achieved), with safety improvements on all of our main transport routes too (see more here)


As the first UK Minister for Life Science and AgriTech, I launched the first AgriTech industrial strategy in 2014 and continue to work with UEA and the various Institutes on the NRP (the John Innes Centre, the Sainsbury Laboratory, the Quadram Institute etc) to help secure more investment and spin out company formation.

Net Zero

The Global Race for Net Zero is creating a huge opportunity for Norfolk to attract investment into our world leading CleanTech Cluster around the hubs described above.  

We will never achieve Net Zero or sustainable economics by “throwing paint” at businesses. We will only do it through smart regulations, digital emissions ranking and incentives to help consumers reward genuinely green, Net Zero products. By harnessing the market, we can attract billions of private investment into the Green Economy to drive up standards and support high growth CleanTech businesses – of which Norfolk already has a high number.

That’s why, as Minister of State at the new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, I recently brought a senior delegation from across Government on one of my cluster visits (see above) to see the opportunities in the Norfolk and wider New Anglia Cluster first-hand.

Changing attitudes and stereotypes to Drive a ‘Rural Renaissance’

I believe we stand on the cusp of something special in our area: a once-in-a-generation chance to drive a new cycle of growth, investment, high skill jobs and prosperity in a way which ENHANCES our quality of life without requiring the “industrialisation” of rural Norfolk. 

Through my Norfolk Way project (a not for profit social enterprise to promote a more entrepreneurial rural economy here in rural Mid Norfolk ), I have worked with businesses, councillors and public sector figures to promote this “Rural Renaissance’ – one that sees more and more small and medium sized companies (particularly those ‘spinning-out’ from the key growth hubs like the NRP and Hethel) setting themselves up in our local towns and villages, breathing fresh life into our communities, creating thousands of well-paid jobs, levelling up local skills and generating the prosperity that makes all of our lives better and boosts public service funding.

Norfolk Enterprise Festival

That’s why I put together the first Norfolk Enterprise Festival with local entrepreneurs and the New Anglia LEP to provide a forum for the 30,000 small businesses in Norfolk to come together and promote our local innovation economy (see more here, here, here and here)

Promoting business, enterprise and innovation in local schools

The key to our long term prosperity is the skills, training and ambition of our school children, school leavers and young people (as well as those who are older and looking to retrain or pursue an exciting new career).

That’s why I continue to do all I can to champion the Norfolk Innovation and Enterprise Economy in my weekly visits to at least one of the 40 local schools across the Mid Norfolk Constituency. 

For all the obvious difficulties of the current cost-of-living and energy crisis, for which I continue to push for relief for local businesses, this is an exciting period of opportunity for our area and for our young people entering the world of work. 

I’m determined to continue working – as local MP and a Minister – to change attitudes in Whitehall to the Norfolk economy and help secure the investment and infrastructure we need. 

To learn more about both my historic and ongoing work on this campaign, please visit my campaign page here

Championing Norfolk’s Innovation and Enterprise Economy