Universities unite for Northern Powerhouse summit

Susan Lea

Every university in the north of England is to come together for an historic summit to agree a plan of action to drive the Northern Powerhouse agenda forward. 

The summit has been organised by the University of Hull and will unite the leaders of the 28 universities across the north of England in a direct response to Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry’s call to create an elite network of Northern Powerhouse universities leading the country in science, research and innovation.

The summit at the University of Hull on Wednesday, July 3, will bring together university vice-chancellors, deputy vice-chancellors and pro vice-chancellors from across the north of England.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hull, Professor Susan Lea, will open the conference.

Lea said: “This unprecedented collaboration of all 28 universities is vital to our Northern Powerhouse aspirations.

“United, we can create a culture of innovation that will help shape a dynamic, sustainable and low-carbon economy for the north.

“Not only will this help balance the north-south divide, but it will benefit the nation as a whole and further enhance the north of England’s position on the global stage.”

The conference will also be attended by representatives from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, the Northern Powerhouse, the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, the CEO of the Connected Places Catapult and the N8 Research Partnership.

Berry said: “At the inaugural Northern Powerhouse Higher Education Summit in Liverpool, I called for an Ivy League of the North where the N8 Research Partnership and our other great Northern universities can combine their technical knowledge, expertise and know-how to build the economy of tomorrow and create a highly-skilled, highly-educated new generation of graduates.

“I am proud to see universities from across our region delivering on this ambition with the Universities of the North conference taking place this week at the University of Hull.

“With a focus on exploring the opportunities presented by the low carbon agenda, I am looking forward to hearing how Government can support our region’s best researchers, thinkers and academics so that the UK remains a global leader for green technology and tackling climate change.”

Key topics to be discussed at the summit include: the economics of low carbon cities; creating an energy innovation cluster in the north; how the Humber can be turned into a low carbon demonstrator for the UK; building partnerships to grow a sustainable and circular economy; and the economic importance of university collaboration across the north.

Ultimately, the university leaders will then agree on an action plan for how the universities can proceed in growing the Northern Powerhouse and nurturing an economy of the future.

Annette Bramley, Director of the N8 Research Partnership, said: “Collaborative research between universities and with businesses, is essential for addressing key issues like climate change, rebalancing the UK economy and providing more high value jobs for the Northern Powerhouse.  

“Our ability to bring universities together across the Northern Powerhouse behind common goals, creates a unique critical mass of excellent researchers and means we can be ambitious in the way we seek to approach the challenges of the Northern Powerhouse region, the UK and the world.

“Our recently funded DecarboN8 network will bring people across the Northern Powerhouse together to devise radical approaches for low carbon transport to help meet the net zero target by 2050 which was signed into law last month.

“The Government is pursuing an ambitious target of investing 2.4% of GDP into R&D by 2027. 

“By coming together in this way we can ensure the Northern Powerhouse is recognised as a ‘go-to’ innovation ecosystem, which will mean more investment from both public and private sector and will result in better opportunities and quality of life for people in the region.”