Key research inputs from the ESRC Spatial Economics Research Centre helped underpin development and use of the Manchester Independent Economic Review.


  • SERC had a substantial impact on the process and outcome of MIER, both on a general level of policy impact and also on the way MIER developed over time.
  • The combination of robust research combined with policy messages to the local policymaking community was a critical part of the longer term MIER legacy.
  • Further added value was SERC's ability to transfer research evidence to the policymaking community, crystallising the nature of economic challenges and opportunities identified by MIER as well as the options for action that have subsequently led to changes in policy and practice.

About the research

In 2008 Manchester New Economy commissioned seven organisations to provide a deep analysis of the economics of the Manchester City Region – the Manchester Independent Economic Review (MIER). The review considered issues such as the causes and impact of innovation, how investment comes about and the effect it has, and why there are persistent pockets of deprivation despite economic growth.

The ESRC Spatial Economics Research Centre (SERC), under the leadership of Professor Henry Overman, played a key role in shaping and delivering the review, particularly in developing the case for 'agglomeration economies' (the benefits of having firms located close to each other) in the Manchester City Region.

SERC's input was also crucial in providing a synthesis of the key elements and outcomes of the economic review process.

Overall, the Manchester New Economy has seen substantial policy benefits for the Manchester City Region as a result of SERC's work on MIER - in particular in translating evidence into robust policy recommendations. This was supported by a shared belief by SERC and Manchester New Economy in the conceptual approach underpinning the research, and a close working relationship allowing the development of clear policy messages.

Even before the review had been formally published SERC work fed straight into policy development. SERC's agglomeration analysis also shaped the way that Greater Manchester politicians and local authority officers viewed the city region as a whole. The influence has continued, and several years after the review there are work streams still going on addressing some of the more specific recommendations stemming from SERC's work, including housing and land supply for business.