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Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme
The two-year Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme (REAP) provides expert, evidence-based guidance for teams to bring about significant economic and social change in their region.
A delegation of industry leaders from Leeds is heading to Boston in America this week to strengthen and develop links between the two cities.

Building on visits to Leeds from delegates from Greater Boston in recent years, the trip taking place from July 25-27 is being managed by Leeds City Council, with chief executive Tom Riordan being joined by a range of senior Leeds figures from a range of industries including education, medtech, health innovation and fintech.

During the Leeds-Boston Mission, the group will meet with world-leading experts in those fields based in Boston, promoting mutual opportunities for investment in both cities and sharing ideas and insight.

The visit will also aim to raise the profile of Leeds and establish new partnerships in trade, investment, academia and government relations. It is part of a drive for Leeds to develop relationships across the world with global centres of excellence like Boston, which has similar characteristics and economic strengths as Leeds.

With Leeds having been announced in May as being chosen for the prestigious Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme (REAP) leadership programme run by the world-famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), members of the delegation will carry out an initial meeting with the REAP team.

This will follow an event hosted by the University of Leeds and the British Consul General in Boston Harriet Cross, where Leeds will formally accept its place on the programme.

The programme will offer the team expert, evidence-based insight about potential ways of driving economic growth and accelerating the impact of projects like the University of Leeds’ new innovation centre, Nexus, which will act as a catalyst to make the region more attractive to growing businesses.

Previous international trade missions have proved highly successful in attracting major new inward investment into Leeds, with one leading example being the multi-million-pound investment from the Chinese Hualing Industry and Trade Group into Thorpe Park announced in 2015.

The leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said:

“This delegation heading to Boston is very important for Leeds as we are keen to continue building and developing new and stronger relationships around the world, raising the profile of Leeds on a global level and encouraging investment and innovation here to drive jobs and growth and opportunities for all.

“Boston is similar to Leeds as a city, with its world-leading education, MedTech and innovation focus matching our own strengths, so there is much we can learn from each other as we look to establish a strong long-term relationship boosted by our participation in MIT’s REAP programme.”

Chief executive of Leeds City Council Tom Riordan said:

“The Boston and Leeds economies are quite similar – world-leading universities, strengths in financial, healthcare and data technologies and the beautiful hinterlands of New Hampshire and Yorkshire respectively. We want to learn how Boston has complemented New York so we can make Leeds do the same with London. The University of Leeds/MIT partnership will allow us to learn alongside eight regions across the world and open up new opportunities for our businesses, academics and policymakers.

“As the UK leaves the European Union, Leeds isn’t waiting for national bodies to decide what we should do. We are taking our own initiative to open up new markets and relationships with like-minded city leaders across the world.”

University of Leeds Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, Professor Lisa Roberts, who is the Leeds team champion for the REAP, said:

“The university is delighted to be leading the MIT programme. The MIT programme will for the first time to bring senior stakeholders from Leeds together, to work towards a strategic plan and actions to drive economic growth and opportunity in the region. It also gives us the chance to learn from teams from regions across the world. So this is our chance, as a collective force, to make a real difference to the region.”

The Leeds in Boston visit has been sponsored by DLA Piper and Virgin Atlantic, with public sector delegates paying for their own travel, accommodation and related expenses. The visit has also received support from the British Consulate in Boston and its DIT experts, and from British expatriates and University of Leeds alumni based in Boston.

With three million people, the Leeds City Region is the UK’s largest outside London and generates more than 5% of the UK’s economic outputs. While it has achieved strong economic progress in recent years which mirrors national trends, like other northern economies, it has experienced growth at a slower rate.

Its potential includes more than 125,000 businesses, with strengths in MedTech, health innovation, creative and digital sectors, and Leeds also represents the largest financial services sector in the UK outside London.

Five critical challenges have been identified:

  • Low productivity levels that are significantly below the national average
  • Employment is below the national average
  • The proportion of people with higher level skills is also below the national average
  • Industry investment in R&D is significantly below the national average
  • Transport infrastructure needs urgent improvement to bolster productivity in the North.

As part of the Northern Powerhouse agenda, the region is also well placed to benefit from improved collaboration and connectivity with other cities in the North, creating business networks and labour markets of genuine critical mass across an area of 7.2 million jobs, and a £329.5 billion annual economy.

The list of Leeds delegates attending the Leeds-Boston Mission is as follows:

  1. Tom Riordan, Chief Executive, Leeds City Council.
  2. Lisa Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research & Innovation, University of Leeds.
  3. Martin Stow, Nexus Director, University of Leeds.
  4. David Aspin, Founder, Munroe K.
  5. Adam Beaumont, CEO & Founder aql, Northinvest, Board member of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
  6. Ben Ziff, Managing Director, Town Centre Securities and CitiPark.
  7. David Hogg, Professor of Artificial Intelligence, University of Leeds.
  8. Mark Birkin, Director, Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA).
  9. Andrew Dyson, Partner, DLA.
  10. Gordon Bateman, Managing Director, Complete Resourcing
  11. Julian Wells, Director, Whitecap Consulting.
  12. Stefan Haase, Director, Whitecap Consulting.
  13. Greg Willmott, Chief Strategy and Digital Officer, YBS.
  14. Tariq Sadiq, Inward Investment Lead, Leeds City Council.
  15. James Goodyear, Associate Director, Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust.
  16. Danielle Miles, Technology Innovation Manager, University of Leeds.
  17. Kieran Zucker, Honorary Clinical Oncology Specialist Registrar – Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust.
  18. Andy Lima, Digital Strategist and leading researcher at The Retail Institute, Leeds Beckett University
  19. Justine Andrew, Market Director, Education, KPMG LLP

The two-year Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme (REAP) provides expert, evidence-based guidance for teams to bring about significant economic and social change in their region.