Reading has been ranked second only to Cambridge in a new report on the UK’s innovation clusters.

Innovation Hotspots, Clustering the New Economy by the Centre for Cities, identifies areas most favoured by cutting-edge businesses.

Out of 63 locations Reading had the second highest number of new economy firms (NEF) per 10,000 population. It was closely followed by Milton Keynes.

According to the report, the long-standing attractions of Reading as a place to locate a business have been instrumental in evolving clusters of innovative businesses across a number of sectors.

Those include location, connectivity, highly-skilled workforce, investment from hi-tech employers and the benefits of the University of Reading. It says NEFs in hotspots punch above their weight.

Nigel Horton-Baker, executive director of REDA, said: “Reading, with its strong knowledge-based economic base and global university presence, is a magnet for innovative businesses. The access to a deep pool of skilled workers and an established network of knowledge-based businesses in a brilliantly-connected business location is what makes Reading so attractive.

“New smaller firms have followed the larger players to take advantage of the local skilled workforce and networking, creating clusters of innovative businesses in many sectors from IT and digital tech to finance and bio-pharma in Reading.

“The role of the University of Reading and its Thames Valley Science Park will help drive the next phase of this business clustering with new clusters developing in the film sector around Shinfield Studios and the museum and academic sectors, with the relocation of parts of the British Museum, Natural History Museum and Kew Gardens to the science park.”

He said the fact Reading punches above its weight offers the opportunity to move towards the town’s 2050 Vision and help attract more cutting edge businesses.

The full report can be read at Innovation-hotspots-September-2023.pdf (

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