The Borderless Campus: The Final Frontier.

How to anchor productivity in times of Brexit: The importance of “intellectual capital flows” within and beyond Hertfordshire.

Julie Newlan
University of Hertfordshire

Nigel Culkin
University of Hertfordshire

Background and Objectives
Hertfordshire’s economy generates output approaches £34bn, measured as Gross Value Added (GVA). As such, Hertfordshire’s “economic engine” is important to the future prosperity of the UK and is defined by its 58,000 enterprises and their employees. It is enabled by the University of Hertfordshire (UH), four FE Colleges, ten local authorities and the many other organisations and institutions with an interest in its economic performance and prospects. Hertfordshire functions across a polycentric blend of urban and rural, much of it within the metropolitan green belt, adjacent to a world city, London.

Hertfordshire’s “economic engine” performs well on certain metrics, but not on others. Its assets should attract the interests of a World Champion F1 driver, but challenges exist that need addressing, particularly in relation to all aspects of its “efficiency,” which stakeholders recognize as vital with regard to sustainability. Such observations reflect the limited productivity growth, which has been seen across Hertfordshire over the last decade, and the “productivity puzzle” – namely the failure of productivity growth to return to pre-recession levels – is pronounced.

With substantial and unique agglomeration advantages, London performs strongly: GVA per hour worked was notably higher than elsewhere at the start of the period, and it grew at over 2.6% per annum over the decade (which was faster than the national average). Conversely, productivity in Hertfordshire grew at 1.3% per annum, the lowest rate among any of the comparators. Even without Brexit, productivity matters: it is the only sustainable route to higher living standards, and it is the core measure of economic efficiency (Herts LEP, 2017).

Despite continued Government interest and support for business start-ups in the UK, the University of Hertfordshire took the decision to cease its provision of general-purpose dedicated innovation and incubation space. The objective was to respond to the region’s “productivity puzzle,” by literally ‘opening up’ its offer in terms of physical boundaries; while at the same time extending access beyond graduate entrepreneurs to a wider enterprise community that would value on-campus ambience and facilities.