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  • What’s going on with the Northern Powerhouse?

    October 26, 2016

  • Following a piece in The Telegraph by Sheffield University’s Professor Sir Keith Burnett lauding the desire and drive among northern cities to revive the region, Theresa May penned a letter promising to continue George Osborne's plans for a Northern Powerhouse.

    The Northern Powerhouse is the Government’s vision to create a new industrial and technological hub in the north of England to rival London.

    Here we take a look at the steps taken so far in producing this vision, how the region is already doing its bit and what is yet to come.

    Early shifts

    Some big changes have already taken place. Chairman of the North East Institute of Directors Graham Robb recently suggested that the slogan alone has gained momentum as an internationally useful marketing tool, drawing investment to the area – and government stats back him up. Foreign investment in the north of England doubled in the last two years, and unemployment has fallen by 127,000.

    The first UK Northern Powerhouse International Conference and Exhibition, which took place in February and was attended by 2,287 delegates, also helped crystallise much of that vision, and delivered the first outcomes report to parliament.

    Laying the groundwork

    It’s not just government initiatives that can make the Northern Powerhouse a reality – the evidence suggests that local businesses, trade bodies and education institutes are already taking on the mantle.

    Tech North’s Digital Powerhouse Report says the North’s digital workforce has grown by 28% over the past five years, and productivity is up by 11.3%. Much of this success is down to the support networks available to tech start-ups, from incubators and investors to local universities and networking opportunities. Not forgetting, of course, the drive and ingenuity of the new entrepreneurs and the universities producing them.

    Looking ahead

    Solid though these beginnings may be, there's still a lot that could be done to boost the Northern Powerhouse vision. Uncertainty remains over the future devolution of powers to Mayors of Manchester and Liverpool, while Theresa May’s commitment to HS2 and HS3 rail links is also being questioned. If these do come to fruition, the project will reap the dividends.

    If not, local small businesses and entrepreneurs can still help to make the Northern Powerhouse a reality. A focus on linking innovative companies with partners and business opportunities in local markets can make a huge difference.

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