Spring budget: Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to announce 12 new investment zones to 'supercharge' hi-tech growth

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will use his first budget to set out plans for 12 new investment zones to "supercharge" growth in hi-tech industries.

The government said the scheme, which is backed by £80m of investment over five years in each of the new high-growth zones, is designed to accelerate research and development in the UK's "most budding industries".

Each of the new investment zones will be clustered around a university or other research institution, the Treasury said, bringing growth to areas which have traditionally underperformed economically.

They will be focused on one of a series of key sectors: technology, creative industries, life sciences, advanced manufacturing and the green sector.

Eight areas in England have been shortlisted: the East Midlands, Greater Manchester, Liverpool, the North East, South Yorkshire, the Tees Valley, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire.

The government is also in discussions with the devolved administrations over how investment zones can be established in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to account for the final four locations.

Mr Hunt will also set out plans to accelerate the growth of "high-potential innovation clusters" in Glasgow, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands with £100m of investment in 26 "transformative" research and development projects.

The chancellor said: "True levelling up must be about local wealth creation and local decision-making to unblock obstacles to regeneration.

"From unleashing opportunity through new investment zones, to a new approach to accelerating research and development in city regions, we are delivering on our key priority to supercharge growth across the country."

Tory and Labour mayors welcome announcement

The announcement was welcomed by both Labour and Conservative regional mayors.

Tracy Brabin, the Labour mayor of West Yorkshire, said: "West Yorkshire has a strong and thriving economy, and I'm pleased the government has recognised the strength of our innovation by choosing to work with us to deliver an investment zone.

"It will provide further opportunities for people across the region, as well as our world-leading higher educational facilities, building on our expertise in digital, technology, and health and life sciences."

Ben Houchen, Tory Tees Valley mayor, said he was "incredibly supportive of this proposal", a sentiment echoed by Tory West Midlands leader Andy Street and Labour mayor of South Yorkshire, Oliver Coppard.