Northern Economic Summit

  • Tuesday, 23 March 2021
  • The Studio, Manchester
  • 09:30 - 16:45
Expert Speakers
Sponsors & Supporters
  • Overview

The new government has made 'levelling-up' opportunities and economic performance across the UK a core component of its forward programme. Outcomes in the North will be pivotal to this agenda and will require investment in innovative industries, inter-regional connectivity and public health. Open Forum Events' annual Northern Economic Summit will bring together civic, business and tech leaders; economic, scientific and public policy researchers, industry chiefs, local authorities and central government to discuss the initiatives, services and capital the region needs to become a self-sustaining economic power.

The CPD accredited Summit agenda is a comprehensive programme of presentations, panel discussions and keynotes exploring:          

  • The growing interaction(s) between environmental and economic sustainability. Learn from regional projects pioneering new models of natural liveable city regions; maximising the economic and health benefits of investment in the environment, creating sustainable growth and a good quality of life.
  • How algorithms, blockchain and cryptocurrencies could fundamentally disrupt the future of work, profit and power in the North.    
  • Support available through central and local authorities to start ups, SMEs and existing organisations looking to expand or set-up in the region.
  • Major infrastructure investments in connectivity, construction and technology across the North; reviewing the economic and social impact of projects like HS2, Crossrail for the North and the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.
  • High-impact policy recommendations from the UK's leading think tank organisations, including the Institute for Public Policy Research, Policy Connect, Core Cities UK and the Centre for Towns.  
  • Cross-sector business and leadership skills; as well as opportunities to build new relationships between governance and industry.
  • Attracting and sustaining inward international investment.
  • Confirmed Speakers

Event Sponsors and Supporters

  • Event Programme


Registration and Coffee in the Networking Area


Chair's Opening Address

  • Sarah Davies, Northern Powerhouse Strategic Lead, Environment Agency (confirmed)

Sarah Davies, Lead on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' Urban Pioneer project will highlight the interaction between the economy, resilience and environmental sustainability - particularly how our approach to the environment influences and determines international investor appetite as well as maximising local economic and health benefits. This presentation will explore the natural capital account of the GM region as a case study demonstrating the value natural assets can deliver for future generations and importance of ensuring the protection and enhancement of natural assets are considered in regional decision making.

  • Rhys Whalley, Executive Director, Manchester - China Forum (confirmed)
"Connecting the Northern Powerhouse"

Subsequent to establishing the Manchester China Forum in 2013, GM's links with China have grown from strength to strength. Greater Manchester and the broader Northern Powerhouse region have seen a surge in inward investment, Chinese tourists, students and an increase in academic collaboration; some of the recent success can be attributed to the Manchester China Forum's strategy of prioritising the development of direct air routes between Manchester Airport and China.


At last year's NES, Minister Ma Hui from the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the UK spoke on how parallels between the Northern Powerhouse and China's Belt and Road initiative have facilitated unprecedented inward investment from China into Northern England, rapid growth of collaboration between Chinese/northern academic researchers and industry in the development of artificial intelligence and graphene; as well as improved economic ties between Chinese and northern commerce. Rhys' keynote will explore opportunities for the region in Phase 2 of the Manchester China Forum investment strategy, including further direct connectivity with China and focus on key sectors to GM's growth; infrastructure and regeneration, advanced manufacturing, visitor economy and football. 


Main Sponsor


Representative from Core Cities UK (confirmed)

"Response to the Major OECD Report: Enhancing Productivity in the UK Core Cities - Connecting Local and Regional Growth"

Core Cities UK commissioned the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to undertake a major review of UK city productivity in contrast with that of European cities. The review investigates low productivity in the UK's city regions, putting forward a series of recommendations to support not just the UK's core cities - but also the surrounding towns, villages and communities through joined-up central and local government strategies that will underpin ambitions to achieve the economic potential of the regions. 


This presentation, delivered by a member of the Core Cities UK cabinet, will provide CCUK's response to the report, including recommendations to:

  • Continue (and improve) devolution of the UK's highly centralised state and taxation system(s) that are hampering productivity and regional economic output; as well as denying city regions and authorities the financial autonomy to act in the interest of local economies. 
  • Strengthen the interactions between cities and towns by aligning public investment and services across city regions, developing spatial planning and boosting domestic trade of services/goods - contributing to the central government ambition of 'levelling-up' the UK regions and re-balancing the national economy.
  • Increase emphasis on vocational and on-the-job learning programmes, further devolution of adult skills systems and improved careers signposting in schools are all critical in creating labour markets that meet the current and future needs of business.
  • Effectively regulate for - and invest into - transport connectivity, presenting opportunities to converge national policy objectives like Net Zero with local industrial strategies through bespoke, locally-tailored policy that connects people with places and opportunities.       

Core Cities UK is a grouping of expert researchers and civic leaders cooperating across political parties, with Whitehall and working as partners with the government of the day to ensure the successful delivery of improved outcomes for our cities and the economy through meeting with ministers and civil servants. By working in partnership with Government, Core Cities UK have successfully influenced legislation including the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act as well as working closely with Ministers from DECC/BEIS, DEFRA and the Treasury on apprenticeships, business rates, Science and Innovation Audits and the strategic role Core Cities can play in the development of future infrastructure projects.          


Question & Answer Session

Sarah Davies, Northern Powerhouse Strategic Lead, Environment Agency (confirmed)

Rhys Whalley, Executive Director, Manchester - China Forum (confirmed)

Representative from Core Cities UK (confirmed)


Coffee in the Networking Area

  • Simon Tse, Chief Executive, Crown Commercial Service (confirmed)
"Using Public Procurement to Invest in the Northern Economy"
  • Gavin Brown, Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Financial Technology, University of Liverpool (confirmed)
  • Dr Richard Whittle, Principal Lecturer, Manchester Metropolitan University (confirmed)
"FinTech, Blockchain and Cryptoassets - A Northern Focus"

Beyond the hype of blockchain what are the benefits that decentralised finance can bring to the Northern economy? Professor Gavin Brown and Dr Richard Whittle, co-authors of Algorithms, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency: Implications for the Future of the Workplace will critically explore case studies drawn from global best-practice that will exhibit the potential of this technological disruption and how this may be better leveraged at both the regional and national levels.

"Maximising the Benefits of the North's Knowledge Economy"

The N8 Research Partnership (N8) is the collaborative body for the universities of Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York. The N8 universities deliver more than £12 billion of revenue for the North, provides assistance to more than 31,000 businesses and generates in excess of £6.6 billion GVA as well as being responsible for 119,000 jobs in the region. N8 research programmes drive growth of the knowledge-based economy through the development of world-class interdisciplinary, translational research that deliver real world impact. 


Case Study


Questions & Answer Session

  • Simon Tse, Chief Executive, Crown Commercial Service (confirmed)
  • Gavin Brown, Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Financial Technology, University of Liverpool (confirmed)
  • Dr Annette Bramley, Director, N8 Research Partnership (confirmed)
  • Mark Robinson, Chief Executive, Scape Group (confirmed)

Lunch in the Networking Area


Chair's Afternoon Address


Synopsis coming soon...


Centre for Towns Panel Discussion

Ian Warren, Director, Centre for Towns (confirmed)

Lisa Nandy MP, Member of Parliament for Wigan (confirmed)

David Walsh, Skipton and East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership's 'Northern Link' Project (confirmed)

Luke Raikes, Senior Research Fellow, IPPR North (confirmed)

Speaker TBC


Afternoon Refreshment Break

"Manufacturing in the Regions"

Ben Carpenter Merritt manages the All Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group. In February the APPMG launches the Manufacturing in the Regions report following a year-long inquiry Chaired by Cross Bench Peer and founder of Cobra Beer, Lord Bilimoria. The report considers five priority areas on which the government must focus in order for manufacturing to benefit each region of the UK.

  1. National policy frameworks
  2. Powering up the regions 
  3. Innovation networks
  4. Technology & skills
  5. Business funding

This presentation will consider findings from the report as they pertain specifically to manufacturing in the North.

"Case Study"

This slot is reserved for organisations looking to engage delegates with services and opportunities that compliment conference presentation and discussion panel topics. If you're interested in delivering a Case Study, contact us on 0161 376 9007.

  • Luke Raikes, Senior Research Fellow, IPPR North (confirmed)
"Power and Prosperity: A Strategy for the North to Take Control of it's Economy"

'The North could thrive in the decades ahead. Its economy is significant on an international scale: it is larger than most EU economies, and those of the UK’s devolved nations combined; and it has vital assets and capabilities which have national importance and global reach.'


Luke's research for IPPR received national coverage for spotlighting the historic and continued disparity between North/South transport infrastructure investment; projecting (based on the government's own National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline) over the next 14 years, London will receive £3,636 per-capita in contrast to £1,247 per-capita in the North. Luke will present findings from his research into driving economic prosperity in the North, including:  

  • Northern assets that can be further cultivated to drive pan-regional growth, such as: economic geography/industrial specialisms, research and development of emerging technologies/materials (particularly in health) and logistics such as the North's eight major ports that are valuable to the energy, automotive and trade sectors.
  • The importance of local industrial strategies for northern sub-regions in strengthening devolved economic policy; drawing from case studies of localised strategies implemented overseas that provide lessons for the development of a Northern Industrial Strategy.
  • IPPR's Commission on Economic Justice - established following the Brexit vote in 2016 to review challenges posed to the UK's economy and making practical recommendations for reform in areas such as industrial strategy, devolved economic policy, corporate governance reform and the financial sector. As a contributor, Luke will present findings from the Commission pertaining to geographically re-balancing economic power in the UK. 

Question & Answer Session


Chair's Closing Remarks and Summit Close

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Jonathan Smith
  • Gain 8 CPD Points.
  • Review and deliberate the economic impact of: reforms to business rates retention/calculation on local authorities capability to support economies, transport-connectivity and infrastructure investment such as Crossrail for the North/HS2, diversifying local economies and further devolution of legislative power.
  • Up-to-date projections for regional growth, commercial trends and performance of emerging industries.
  • Understand how global inward investment and international partners are supporting the development of regional economies in the North. 
  • Learn how to take advantage of grants/opportunities available from local authorities, central government, the European Union, banks and other financial institutions.
  • Hear about opportunities to engage with local government initiatives designed to support business, develop local economies and encourage growth.
  • Learn from procurement chiefs how to secure a share of the public sector's £200billion annual procurement spend.
  • Take advantage of secondment opportunities in business' driving local economic growth; developing cross-sector leadership skills and adding further nuance and insight into local economic policy and initiatives.   
  • Understand the potential impact of proposed business rates retention/calculation and explore methods of reducing local authorities reliance on them as a source of revenue. 
  • Identify diverse sources of growth funding for local businesses and how they can be accessed.
  • Develop your understanding of local business requirements for economic growth and exporting.   
  • Learn about the support available to local businesses who export and how this can be obtained.         
  • Contact Details
  • Sponsors
  • Supporters
  • Venue
  • Featured Events
  • Downloads
  • Who will attend

Contact Details




The Studio, Manchester

The Studio, Manchester

Situated in the heart of Manchester's iconic Northern Quarter and just a couple of minutes walk away from the city's major transport links; The Studio is a spacious, contemporary meeting centre atop The Hive building on Lever St.     

Whatever the legendary Manchester weather has to throw at you, you’ll always find the warmest of welcomes at The Studio.

Featured Events

  • The Northern Economic Summit

    • 15 November 2018
    • 09:25 - 17:00
    • The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

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who will attend

  • Assistant Director Business
  • Assistant Director's Regeneration
  • Associate Director's
  • Business Development Directors
  • Business Engagement Managers
  • Business Partnerships Managers
  • Cabinet Members
  • CEO's/Founders
  • Chief Economists
  • Chief Executives
  • Chief Financial Directors
  • Commercial Managers
  • Commercial Services Specialists
  • Deputy Directors of Development and Regeneration
  • Directors
  • Directors - Regeneration & Strategy
  • Directors England and Cities
  • Directors Industrial Strategy
  • Directors of Business and Enterprise
  • Directors of Research, Enterprise and Innovation
  • Directors Of Strategic Transformation
  • Directors Strategic Relationship's
  • Economic Analysts
  • Economic Development Funding Managers
  • Economics Associates
  • Executive Directors
  • General Secretaries
  • Growth Generators
  • Head of Infrastructure
  • Head's of Business Engagement
  • Head's of Communications
  • Head's of External Engagement and Capability
  • Head's of IP & Commercialisation
  • Head's of School: Teacher Development
  • International Trade Advisers
  • Investors
  • Inward Investment Officers
  • Knowledge Exchange Support Officers
  • Lecturers
  • Managing Directors
  • Mayors
  • Members of Parliament
  • Ministers
  • Operations Managers
  • Policy Managers
  • Programme Managers
  • Rail freight logistics experts
  • Regional Directors
  • Regional Press
  • Research Partnership Managers
  • Senior Communications Officers
  • Senior Corporate Engagement Officers
  • Senior Lecturers
  • SMEs
  • Social Inclusion Directors
  • Transport Developers