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      The Oxford-Cambridge Arc: An International Perspective

      The scale of opportunity of the Ox-Cam Arc is often viewed and debated through a domestic prism.

      22 Feb 2022 Dr Tim Moonen, Managing Director, The Business of Cities

      Yet the innovation economy is global. Connecting as it does a unique set of world-class UK institutions, industry capabilities, and communities of practice, the Arc’s competition and context is even more international than it is national. A wider view may instead observe the Arc to be one of a group of 10 or more corridors that connect and adjoin the world's most innovative regions and urban centres. These are found in North America, Northern and Central Europe, Israel, and, increasingly in East Asia.


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      Connecting the Corridors

      Building fast, frequent, high capacity rail services between cities and towns along the innovation corridor has been a top priority for more than a decade in many places.

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      Shaping the Arc of Opportunity


      Given the depth and breadth of assets they are home to, top tier innovation corridors increasingly realise they have to develop a more co-ordinated economic development plan to guide the growth journey they are on.


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      The Place and Habitat imperative


      A committed multi-stakeholder approach to places is becoming recognised as essential for corridors. This applies to both the key nodes and dense knowledge hubs as well as the locations whose place assets have been neglected. A number of life sciences-rich regions are bringing forward a much higher urban calibre of mixed use campuses, retrofitted suburbs and urban districts along their corridors to respond to the needs of talent, communities, and disaggregating business.


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      Combined and distributed leadership


      Finally, those who lead, plan and champion these corridors realise that in most cases responsibility for these locations spans jurisdictions that used to have little in common other than a shared use of infrastructure. Now there is an impetus to run, lead, promote, and organise the corridor, to give them the profile and co-ordination and national priority they deserve.


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      The future of the OxCam Arc makes sense to be viewed and organised around with this global perspective in mind. Not only will it help those invested in the Arc’s success to grasp what it will really take to stay on track to retain, renew and amplify its global excellence over the coming decades. Pursuit of global learnings will also be essential in understanding how best everyone can exercise leadership, custodianship, curation and influence amid the shifting sands of technology, politics and place that these special corridor locations have to be constantly alive to.


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