INNOVATION can play a major role in regenerating communities and remaking Britain, Richard Ellis, chairman of the East of England Development Agency (EEDA), said last week. Delivering the keynote speech at the national Regeneration and Renewal conference, he said smart innovation would be central to recovery and renewal and at the heart of tackling the great challenges of the day - the immediate recession - as well as wider regeneration issues such as wealth and well-being. "Innovation is more crucial than ever to business survival and growth. Even in the good times, only around 40 per cent of businesses survive more than six years. Those that do survive and grow do so by innovating to meet the changing needs of consumers and society. "We all have a job to do to create and support an environment in which innovation can flourish but we don't need to reinvent the wheel to get this done," he added. "The Government has just published the results of a major evaluation exercise covering over 60 per cent of regional development agency (RDA) expenditure over a five year period to 2007. This demonstrates that RDAs have created \u00A34.50 of additional wealth for every \u00A31 we have spent. This figure will rise significantly over time as the full effects of projects come to pass. The evaluation exercise though also provides a rich evidence base from which to learn lessons and now is not the time for complacency." Mr Ellis outlined some of his priorities for the next six months. "I will be using much of my time to champion the economic benefits of converting to a low-carbon economy. The upturn, which will inevitably come, is likely to be driven by growth in this sector, which is set to create around 400,000 new jobs nationally.