Six-point plans offers ‘digital revolution’ strategy for Northern firms

Accountancy giant EY collected information from more than 100 business leaders and other experts across the North, including Liverpool, and has reported its findings. Tony McDonough reports

Digital, technology
EY consulted with more than 100 business leaders and other experts across the North

 

A six-point plan to transform the digital landscape for businesses across the North of England is published today.

Accountancy giant EY collected information from more than 100 business leaders and other experts across the North, including Liverpool, and has boiled down their input into six key recommendations.

It series of ‘Innovation Sprint’ workshops late last year saw business people, entrepreneurs, academics, investors and market influencers come together to understand how business communities can better utilise digital technologies.

Little progress has been made on bridging the productivity gap between the economies of the North and the South and EY research forecasting Manchester as one of the UK’s strongest performing cities to 2021 makes the city an exception.

Its forecast GVA (gross value added) growth came a very close second to Reading, whose dominance in the information & communications sector is noteworthy.

The sector accounts for almost a quarter of Reading’s total GVA and it is forecast to expand by 3.5% annually over the next three years, underlining the opportunity digital and technology presents for future economic growth.

The six recommendations in the United Through Tech report are:

  • Digital champion – appoint a single, inspirational Northern voice and figurehead who represents the North’s digital agenda.
  • Central point for signposting – create a central, comprehensive point for signposting, with links to tech education and support resources, events and services.
  • Best practice forum – connect across ecosystems to drive effective collaboration by creating a formal forum for Northern businesses to share knowledge and best practice.
  • Institutional connectivity – leverage the Northern Powerhouse brand to articulate the story of the North as a centre for world-class innovation on a national and international level.
  • Centres of excellence network – create and support a dedicated network of Northern centres of technological excellence and nurture a community culture between these centres.
  • Educational accountability – universities should consult with businesses in their region on the delivery of course content and report on where former students who enter the workplace are based to demonstrate what the university is giving back to its local community.

Stephen Church, EY Partner and project leader, said: “There is significant enthusiasm for what we want to help achieve, in terms of making sure individual cities are listened to while also try and lift the conversation to leverage the power of a more cohesive North.

“We have reignited the conversation about the North’s digital ask. This means giving the North a single voice and the clout it needs when talking to the powers that be in Whitehall.”

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