‘Science Cities’: 6 cities in England with track-record of scientific breakthroughs

Selected to help spearhead the then Government’s drive to make sure the country thrived in science, technology and innovation, let's take a look at the six English ‘Science Cities’:


Birmingham, Central England


Aerial view from the centre of Birmingham city. The landmarks the Library of Birmingham, piazza, business and retail centre, and BT Tower.

By pioneering the use of X-ray imaging in the late 19th century, Birmingham’s John Hall-Edwards kickstarted a whole new field of medical science.

He was the first medical professional to use radiation during a surgical operation and took the first-ever X-ray image of a human spine in 1896.

Today, the West Midlands sits at the forefront of medical advancement and is home to more MedTech companies than any other UK region.

MD-TEC (Medical Devices Testing and Evaluation Centre) opened in 2018. It provides the area's life sciences businesses with access to state-of-the-art simulation and usability facilities alongside dedicated medical device expertise from the academic and clinical environment.

More than £7 million of funding, leveraged through the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership European Social Innovation Fund, has enabled MD-TEC to build a replica operating theatre, plus intensive care and ward bed areas adjacent to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, the second-largest teaching hospital in the UK.

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Bristol, South England


Aerial view of Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, with hot air balloons lifting off in the air above the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the Avon Gorge in Bristol

The area around Bristol and Bath is home to the greatest concentration of silicon-design businesses anywhere in the world outside Silicon Valley, influencing everything from computer science and mobile communications to the development of the internet and digital TV.

The area is also home to the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) - the largest academic centre for multi-disciplinary robotics research in the UK.

The Laboratory is a partnership between UWE Bristol (University of the West of England) and the University of Bristol. It strives to understand the science, engineering and social role of robotics and is complemented by the work of UWE's Machine Vision Laboratory and the Education Innovation Centre.

The Bristol & Bath Science Park meanwhile, is a 59-acre world-class environment in North Bristol, which provides the space, flexibility and support for science and technology businesses to accelerate their growth and success. 

Companies located at the Bristol & Bath Science Park Science Park include Artificial Intelligence start-ups, computer science companies and software developers. 

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Manchester, North England


 MediaCityUK on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal in Salford and Trafford, Greater Manchester.

A city of firsts, Manchester has a decorated history in scientific advancements, from Rutherford splitting the atom and the invention of the first programmable computer to the discovery of the wonder material, graphene.

In 2014, Manchester celebrated its status as the European City of Science with a series of funding investments. The Sir Henry Royce Institute for Materials Research and Innovation was established with an investment of £235 million; science businesses in Greater Manchester and Cheshire were supported with the creation of a £42 million Life Sciences fund, and £3 million went to support permanent exhibitions home for MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry).

In 2016, Manchester hosted Europe's largest general scientific conference, ESOF - the EuroScience Open Forum. ESOF is a biennial, pan-European convention that is dedicated to scientific research and innovation and brought 4,500 delegates to the city.

Today, the region accounts for around 23% of all life sciences employment in the UK, whilst Manchester Metropolitan University has Europe’s largest clinical academic campus.

The campus is home to several medical research institutes; Europe’s biggest cancer treatment centre; and conducts some of the largest clinical trials in the world. 

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Newcastle, North England


Newcastle Quayside at the sunset. The Tyne Bridge is on the front, the Sage on the right and the Millennium Bridge at the very back.

Since its inception, Newcastle Science City has created countless startups and helped thousands of schoolchildren to get involved in science-based events and activities to see what it could mean for their future. The North East is now home to more than 200 life science companies that employ more than 7,000 people.

Newcastle University is one of 24 UK Russell Group research-intensive universities, a global top 100 university for life sciences, plus a centre of excellence for pre-clinical contract research. The Leiden Ranking 2020 places Newcastle University 78th in the world, scoring particularly highly in Biomedical and Health Sciences, where it ranked 39th globally.

The Newcastle Helix meanwhile is a 24-acre testbed and innovation hub built for international tech and science businesses in the centre of Newcastle.

The Helix is home to The Core, a seven-floor building where digital and innovation-led SMEs are based, and The Biosphere, a lab facility at the centre of a £1.1 billion life science eco-system in the North East of Britain.

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Nottingham, Central England


View of the town hall in Nottingham with the Nottingham City Council building at the back, sat at the Old Market Square

Nottingham has a strong history of bioscience research done at the University of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent University and by Boots, Britain's largest retail pharmacy company.

BioCity Nottingham is the UK's largest bioscience innovation and incubation centre. A short walk from Nottingham city centre, this former Boots R&D centre has been transformed into floors of flexible lab and office space for life science startups and scale-ups. 

Situated within an Art Deco, Grade1-listed building within BioCity is MediCity Nottingham, a pharmaceutical incubator with the UK headquarters of Boots. Companies based at MediCity can showcase their products and services to leaders and decision-makers within Boots UK. 

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York, North England


 Evening view of Yorkminster and York Walls and Minster, York, England.

York is home to more than 7,500 science-based businesses including young, pioneering companies and global research giants.

York Science Park, together with other business parks around the city, has provided a base for developing companies to set up, grow and flourish.

Science City York is a partnership between the University of York and City of York Council, designed to develop a strong knowledge-based economy. It successfully drives the creation and growth of business and employment opportunities across the Yorkshire and Humber region and supports specialist business networks for York’s three fastest growing sectors: bioscience, creative, and IT & digital. 

York excels in bioscience. The University of York is ranked 6th in the UK for biosciences by the Guardian University Guide 2021, whilst the city boasts process industry infrastructure and skills, plus research and innovation expertise.

York-based biotech company, Circa Group, developed a bio-based, renewable solvent, which won the Environmental Leader’s Top Product 2019 Award.

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Visit Britain supports World Science Day for Peace and Development, which takes place annually worldwide in November. 

18 May 2022(last updated)
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