Growing Surrey: mapping Surrey's post-Covid growth strategy

A report that determines both the immediate, medium and short-term changes, and the nature of public and private-sector actors required to create and facilitate sustainable growth in Surrey, amidst the ongoing turbulence of Covid and Brexit-relate

Start date

January 2021

End date

May 2021


The University of Surrey is a key stakeholder in the county of Surrey. On the basis of strong, cooperative partnerships in a host of areas, the Department of Politics was commissioned by the Future Economy Surrey Commission to carry out a thorough appraisal of the impact of Covid on Surrey’s business and knowledge sectors, aviation, healthcare. Commended for its uniquely detailed analysis, the report entitled Charting Surrey’s Post-Covid Rescue, Recovery and Growth (PDF), launched November 2020, produced key policy recommendations, the most vital of which are:

  • Outlining a comprehensive growth-based strategy for the county, allowing it to recover. from the impact of Covid (and to a lesser extent, Brexit) in the short, medium and long-term;
  • Clarifying and supporting Surrey’s “growth governance” key government, business and sectoral leaders (within aviation, healthcare and the knowledge economy) and particular modes of engagement, collaboration and innovation needed to implement this strategy.

The Department of Politics has since been asked to consider providing further project-based assistance to a variety of local stakeholders in providing a second report to facilitate these two policy recommendations.

Constituting new research activity that builds on existing research and collaboration, and working in partnership with key policy-makers to provide impactful analysis, this proposal therefore will unpack those policy recommendations

Aims and objectives

The key objective is to produce a clear, workable, growth-based strategy to directly assist businesses, sectoral leaders and policy-makers in helping Surrey to regain its former status as a uniquely high-value, high-growth economy, in the wake of Covid and Brexit’s damaging impact on the gross value-added levels (GVA), employment, productivity and outputs of the county. This includes two vital issues. First, identifying those areas of strength in Surrey that can help drive growth in the short-term (e.g. SMEs, Covid-research, health-tech, digital infrastructure, AI, high-end automotive and space-based tech, gaming), and those areas of weaknesses that require immediate intervention (aviation communities, attainment gap, collapsing High Streets), in order to produce growth in the medium and long-term.

Second, identifying local and regional public and private-sector actors capable of carrying out growth-based strategies in key areas, to kickstart specific projects (e.g. LEPs support of retraining key demographics in aviation communities, University of Surrey-Chamber of Commerce collaboration on enhanced placements.

The project ultimately engages with four key dimensions: sustainability, inward investment, localism and employability and skills.

Funding amount




Additional team members 

  • Christian Turner
  • James Penny
  • Zoe Drapper
  • Adrian Shanks
  • Meghan Isherwood
  • Ellen Hughes
  • Marta Alvaro-Taus
  • Frankie O-Connell


The output will be a consolidated 50-60 page growth-based strategy for use in post-Covid Surrey, based on sectoral appraisals, a detailed analysis of high quality local and regional economic data to provide a realistic overview of Surrey’s ‘Covid economy’, and a Surrey Delivery Plan that maps recommendations on providing credible sectoral forms of growth to uplift Surrey’s overall GVA through inward investment, entrepreneurship opportunities, and location-based transformation, including an overview of the actors responsible for Surrey’s Growth Governance.

The outcomes will include:

  • Enhanced overall clarity by key decision-makers in government, business, knowledge, aviation and healthcare sectors of precisely where the strengths and weaknesses lie in their area
  • Improved decision-making by these decision-makers in reducing the weakness-led threats associated with a dramatic drop in GVA, employment, productivity, deepening socio-economic disparities (e.g. between east and west Surrey), and boosting strength-led opportunities associated with prioritising training, education, skills, jobs, uniquely digitised workplaces and work-life structures, reworked High Streets, micro-business opportunities, enhanced carbon-zero outputs
  • A more rationalised sense of ‘who does what’ in Surrey’s ‘growth governance’, by aligning the range of large, medium and small stakeholders in local government (county, district and borough), Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), and the four clusters of business, knowledge, aviation and healthcare. This will enable a more linear approach to specific growth-based projects, rather than a widespread, potentially duplicatory approach to driving growth in traditional areas rather than genuinely needs-based communities.

Research groups and centres

Our research is supported by research groups and centres of excellence.

Centre for Britain and Europe

Research themes

Find out more about our research at Surrey: