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Universities key to success of Northern Powerhouse

The success of the Northern Powerhouse cannot be achieved without a healthy higher education sector, says Leeds Beckett University’s Vice Chancellor.

Speaking ahead of the UK Northern Powerhouse International Conference and Exhibition, Professor Peter Slee outlined the contribution that universities make to the regional economy as well as their role in driving enterprise and innovation: “Leeds Beckett is one of a network of 31 Northern Powerhouse universities. Together we comprise one of the strongest sectors in our regional economy: contributing £18bn to GDP and sustaining more than 150,000 jobs. We make a formidable contribution to the Northern Powerhouse skills base by educating and training some 518,000 highly skilled people every year.

“For every £1 we spend on enterprise and innovation interventions we help generate a further £9.70 in downstream economic effects. We are major exporters of education. The Northern Powerhouse universities generate £2.1bn in international export earnings gathered from almost every country in the world.  And as major businesses and employers in our own right we are major purchasers of goods via complex supply chains, which create and sustain jobs across our region.

“Universities all understand the challenges facing our region. We need to attract and retain more graduates. We need to help drive educational attainment at every level in our society. We need to find ways to reach out to small and medium-sized businesses with the support they need to help them grow. And we need to shout louder for a place around the policy-making tables to help ensure the benefits of our world class higher education system are fully realised. Leeds Beckett is fully committed to working in partnership with organisations and employers across the North not just to drive growth, but to help everyone participate in it, and benefit from it.”

Yorkshire Universities Executive Director, Emily Wolton, said: “Yorkshire Universities is the regional voice for higher education in Yorkshire. Its aim is to foster collaboration and partnership working to maximise the value and impact of higher education in the region. The higher education sector in Yorkshire represents a major source of innovation and a knowledge base for business and other partners to draw on. Yorkshire Universities represents 12 higher education institutions to maximise their offer to staff, students, business and the local community.  Yorkshire’s universities have a leading role to play in the successful delivery of the Northern Powerhouse by ensuring that the region has strong economic growth and wellbeing, the pillars of the Government’s Industrial Strategy.”

Joanne Roney, Chief Executive of Wakefield Council, added: “Leeds Beckett University has a refreshing approach to engaging with local businesses. It has been a strategic higher education partner for Wakefield Council for six years. It plays its role as a regional anchor institution with integrity and passion to help individuals and organisations grow and achieve their potential.”

This year, Leeds Beckett is a corporate sponsor of the UK Northern Powerhouse International Conference and Exhibition, which is supported by business leaders from across the major cities of the North. It will include interactive sessions with top firms such as Nissan, Cisco and Stobart Group, as well as the Confederation of British Industry, Institute of Directors and Federation of Small Businesses. Professor Slee will chair a session at the conference entitled, ‘The Northern Powerhouse – More Important than ever following Brexit’.

The conference is the biggest cross-sectoral gathering of Northern businesses in the UK. It will be held in Manchester Central on 21 and 22 February and is expected to attract more than 3,000 delegates over two days.

Topics being addressed during the conference include manufacturing, transport and infrastructure, finance and delivery, devolution, competitiveness and productivity and energy. Leeds Beckett will host an exhibition stand and will be promoting how the University is currently contributing to the Northern Powerhouse agenda.

Other speakers include Lord Kerslake, chair of the UK Northern Powerhouse Advisory Board, David Brown, CEO, Transport for the North, Ed Cox, director, IPPR North, Graham Robb, chairman, IoD, James McCartney MP, Joe Saxton, FSB Lead for the Northern Powerhouse, Paul Griffiths, phase two development director, HS2 and Paula Marsh, head of development & finance, Department of International Trade.

Leeds Beckett has been named as a finalist for The Northern Lights Awards 2017, a prestigious award ceremony to recognise the companies and individuals who are driving the Northern Powerhouse agenda forward.

The Northern Lights 2017 received entries from across the North of England and Leeds Beckett has been shortlisted for the ‘University of the Year’ award.

The Northern Lights 2017 winners will be announced at an inaugural ceremony in Manchester on Tuesday 21 February, which will be hosted on the first day of the UK Northern Powerhouse International Conference and Exhibition.

Designed to celebrate business excellence and collaboration across the North of England, the ceremony will honour the companies and individuals who have been instrumental in working together and driving forward plans to help make the UK Northern Powerhouse a reality. 

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