Innovation event can inspire future Northern collaboration

Northern academic and local enterprise leaders met with government officials in Leeds on Wednesday to discuss the region’s strengths, and to plan future innovation and collaboration strategies across the North of England.

This inaugural Northern Powerhouse collaboration event, at the University of Leeds, brought together leaders from the N8 Research Partnership (N8), the regional network of Local Enterprise Partnerships from the North of England and directors and policy advisors from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, and the Cities and Local Growth Unit

Speakers included Sir Alan Langlands, Chair of the N8 Board and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds; Dame Nancy Rothwell, Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester & N8 Board member; Mehboob Umarji, Senior Policy Advisor, Cities and Local Growth Unit; Ann Johnstone, Head of Innovation & Local Growth, BIS; Peter Simpson, Director of N8 Research Partnership; Kirsty Pearce, Area Director, BIS North West; James Callaghan, Director of Research and Enterprise Services, Newcastle University, and Alan Welby, Executive Director, Liverpool LEP.

More than 30 invited attendees discussed ideas for collaboration in shaping the Northern Powerhouse growth and innovation agendas; examples of existing regional good practise in collaboration; and the impact and potential opportunities of the spending review and forthcoming Science and Innovation Audits.

The event was organised by BIS, Cities and Local Growth Unit, and N8 Research Partnership, which is the collaboration body for the universities of Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, and York.

Dame Nancy Rothwell said:

“We need to focus on collaboration as a means of growing the Northern economy – though not at the expense of other regions. Growth comes from excellence and opportunity – in the North we recognise the importance of bringing excellence along with our role in the place agenda to secure new investment.

“N8 is a vehicle that can add value to the northern economy. I see opportunities for regional, and also national and international consortia that provide innovative opportunities for investment from government, funders, and industry.”

Sir Alan Langlands said:

“This inaugural meeting offered an excellent opportunity to better understand each other , and it was great to see such interest in identifying opportunities for coordination and joint working across the North of England that transcend local interests.

To translate the Northern Powerhouse concept into increasing impact requires new types of conversations across the Northern universities, LEPs, and government. N8 is committed to delivering excellence in Northern research programmes that lead to economic growth – an agenda that we share closely with the Northern LEPs.”

Mehboob Umarji, said:

“At the heart of government’s vision for Science and innovation lie two key aims: raising productivity and investing in excellence across the whole of the country. In other words adopting a one nation science approach. This is particularly pertinent to the N8 Research Group and important for the Northern Powerhouse.

We want to make the UK the best place to invest in Europe whilst ensuring a more balanced and healthier economy which is not entirely reliant on London and the South East. One of the ways whereby we can achieve this is by increasing collaboration between universities and businesses and LEPs.”

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