Northern Economic Summit

  • Tuesday, 23 March 2021
  • The Studio, Manchester
  • 09:15 - 16:30
Expert Speakers
Sponsors & Supporters
  • Overview

The government has made 'levelling-up' opportunities and economic performance across the UK a flagship policy of its forward agenda. COVID-19 has eaten-into vast sums of government bandwidth and spending, but the political will still exists to implement the levelling-up agenda. Outcomes in the North West, North East, Yorkshire and The Humber will be crucial to the success of this programme.

This CPD accredited Summit is a comprehensive programme of presentations and panel discussions on the issues steering the government's levelling-up agenda, including: devolution of legislative powers and borrowing, innovative R&D programmes forging the North's place in the global knowledge economy and building on its revolutionary industrial heritage; upgrading pan-regional transport connectivity to allow for seamless travel across networks and equipping people with new skills as growth in digital and carbon-neutral catches-up to traditional industry.

  • Confirmed Speakers

Event Sponsors and Supporters

  • Event Programme


Registration and Coffee in the Networking Area


Chair's Opening Address

Christian Spence leads the Future Economies Analytics unit, dedicated to data analysis and visualisation, forecasting and modelling for commercial clients and to support the wider research initiatives of Manchester Metropolitan University. Prior to heading up the FEA, Chris served as Head of Research and Policy at the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce as well as working in Manchester City Council's Economic and Urban Policy unit; before leading political engagement for Core Cities UK, where he successfully drafted and lobbied for amendments to the Localism Act 2011 on devolution policy.


Keynote Address

The COVID-19 pandemic has absorbed government bandwidth and national attention, as well as creating a huge economic shock for the North of England. The endemic economic and opportunity disparities that existed pre-COVID have been compounded - regions in the North will remain further behind and take longer to catch-up if a unilateral approach is pursued. This keynote will set-out how the government will work with business, political figureheads and the public sector to hasten recovery from the shock and support levelling-up the Northern economy.


High Commissioner of the Republic of Singapore to the United Kingdom (awaiting diary confirmation)

"Singapore - A Global Case Study in Transformative Applications of Emerging Technologies"

The fourth industrial revolution is upon us. Singapore is a showcase of how to thrive in competitive global markets; the North will need to apply emerging technologies in a coherent and cost-effective manner to thrive - particularly in a post-Brexit landscape. There is much that can be assessed and adapted to benefit the North and the UK as a whole:

  • Academic and Industrial Partnership are being developed in Singapore's Punggol Digital District - a co-location of the Singapore Institute of Technology's new campus and JTC Corporation business parks, Punggol is a purpose-built community based on a relationship between academia and industry to develop, test and apply digital innovations.
  • Autonomous vehicles are the future of Singapore's public transport network. The nation has developed self-driving cars, trucks and is exploring the deployment of autonomous freight transportation services at non-peak times to ease congestion.
  • Leveraging technology and assistive robotics in healthcare can sustain independent living for the elderly, improve patients access to healthcare, support disabled people in completing activities and transporting food, linen, documents and heavy items around medical estates.

BAE Systems Representative

Synopsis coming soon...


Question & Answer Session

Keynote Speaker

High Commissioner of the Republic of Singapore to the United Kingdom (awaiting diary confirmation)

BAE Systems (confirmed)


Coffee in the Networking Area

"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. 

  • 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.


Member of Core Cities UK Cabinet (confirmed)

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

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 has 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.


Representative from the UK Space Agency (invited)

"New Opportunities in the Space Industry"

Pioneering companies, first-class universities and cutting-edge tech - supported by government - are creating an environment in which the UK space industry can thrive across the UK. The UK space industry has trebled in size since 2000, outperforming the global space economy - enjoying a 5.1% share of the total market; with an ambition to capture 10% of the global space market by 2030. This presentation will explore some of the UK's commercially compelling opportunities in the space industry supply chain, including:

  • Nuclear propulsion - channelling the immense energy released in splitting the atom to accelerate propellant - like hydrogen, at huge speeds, has the potential to revolutionise space travel. Spacecraft powered by an engine of this sort could conceivably make it to Mars in three-to-four months; roughly half the time of the fastest possible trip in a spacecraft using the current chemical propulsion.
  • Spaceports and technology. In 2020, the UK and US governments signed the Technology Safeguards Agreement – paving the way for US companies to operate from UK spaceports and export space technology. The government has estimated commercial vertical and horizontal launch demand is worth a potential £3.8 billion to the UK economy over the next decade and has awarded £40 million in grants to establish commercial satellite launch from UK spaceports.

Questions & Answer Session

Dr Annette Bramley, Director, N8 Research Partnership (confirmed)

Member of Core Cities UK Cabinet (confirmed)

Gavin Brown, Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Financial Technology, University of Liverpool (confirmed)

Dr Richard Whittle, Principal Lecturer, Manchester Metropolitan University (confirmed)

Representative from the UK Space Agency (invited)



We'll be working with venues to ensure lunch at our events is as delicious as ever and caters for a range of dietary preferences - whilst being served in a safe and seamless manner. Some of the new measures we will be introducing to this effect are:

  • One-way queuing systems with safe distancing in operation.
  • Individual snacking bags containing fruit, trail mix and sweets provided on arrival - this will prevent people mixing around snack bars during networking breaks.
  • Individually portioned dishes and pre-sealed cutlery will be served at collection points.  

Where possible, we will request food is sourced locally to reduce food miles, use seasonal vegetables, red tractor certified meat and eggs from free range hens.


Chair's Afternoon Address


Afternoon Keynote Address

  • Henri Murison, Director, Northern Powerhouse Partnership (confirmed)
"What does Devolution mean for Business?"

Synopsis coming soon...

  • Sarah Davies, Northern Powerhouse Strategic Lead, Environment Agency (confirmed)
"Interactions Between the Economy, Resilience and Environmental Sustainability"

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"

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 the previous Northern Economic Summit, Minister Ma Hui from the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the UK spoke to 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 in the development of artificial intelligence and graphene; as well as improved commerce. Rhys' keynote will explore opportunities for the region in Phase 2 of the Manchester China Forum investment strategy, including further direct connectivity with far East and focus on key sectors to GM's growth; infrastructure and regeneration, advanced manufacturing, visitor economy and football. 


Case Study

Case Study synopsis coming soon... 


Question & Answer Session

  • Henri Murison, Director, Northern Powerhouse Partnership (confirmed)
  • Sarah Davies, Northern Powerhouse Strategic Lead, Environment Agency (confirmed)
  • Rhys Whalley, Executive Director, Manchester - China Forum (confirmed)
  • Mark Robinson, Chief Executive, Scape Group (confirmed)

Afternoon Refreshment Break


Jake Berry MP, Member of Parliament for Rossendale and Darwen (invited)

The Northern Research Group consists of 50+ Conservative MPs elected to represent constituencies in northern England, Wales and the Scottish borders. Described by Jake Berry MP, previously Minister of State for the Northern Powerhouse and the NRG's founder/Chair as 'a trade union for Northern MPs' the NRG have lobbied government on a range of issues pertinent to the northern economy, including:

  • Decentralising government power and 'levelling-up' the regions; accelerating the relocation of Whitehall departments out of London into northern England and the Midlands - including the relocation of up to 22,000 civil servants, the establishment of a Treasury Campus North - possibly on Teesside, and moving half of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport staff to Manchester.
  • A clear roadmap out of Covid-19 restrictions for the north - which has seen Greater Manchester, the North East, Merseyside and Yorkshire struggle under tighter restrictions than many parts of the south for longer durations.
  • Maintaining the stamp duty cut on properties worth less than £500,000, upscaling the roll-out of ultrafast broadband and prioritising investment in inter-regional connectivity like the trans-Pennine Northern Powerhouse Rail project. 

Case Study

  • Kevin Larkin, Political Reporter, BBC Politics North & BBC Radio Leeds (confirmed)

Synopsis coming soon...


Speaker TBA


Question & Answer Session

Kevin Larkin, Political Reporter, BBC Look North and BBC Radio Leeds (confirmed)

Speaker TBA

Speaker TBA


Chair's Closing Remarks and Summit Close

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Jonathan Smith
  • Gain 10 CPD Points.  
  • Discover what Northern civic planners, businesses and politicians can learn from international case studies of states applying emerging technologies in a coherent and cost-effective manner in order to to thrive - a necessity for the UK - particularly in a competitive, post-Brexit landscape. Learn more about initiatives that operate at regional and local levels to deliver integrated services and information that citizens need - assess how these models can be adapted to the North's infrastructure, geography and economy to create a coherent, cost-effective strategy that embraces transformation in the way services are delivered in cities, towns, healthcare, connectivity and agricultural settings. 
  • Identify opportunities to diversify your business operations in the North - for many SMEs and large businesses, diversifying output has become a fundamental survival mechanism post-COVID. 
  • Network with leaders in Northern industry, politics, media and sectors that will play a crucial role in the economic growth of the region, including research and innovation, digital connectivity, defence and security; make the case as to how your business can help propel the North forward.
  • Learn more about initiatives that operate at regional and local levels in places like Singapore to deliver integrated services and information that citizens need - assess how these models can be adapted to the North's infrastructure, geography and economy to create a coherent, cost-effective strategy that embraces transformation in the way services are delivered in cities, towns, healthcare, connectivity and agricultural settings. 
  • Receive exclusive projections for regional growth, commercial trends and performance of emerging industries in the North West, North East, Yorkshire & The Humber from leading minds in economic futures, research and policy.
  • Learn how algorithms, blockchain and cryptocurrencies are fundamentally disrupting the future of work, profit and power in the North; develop strategies to implement them in your operations.
  • 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

Downloads & Resources

  • Open Forum Events Sponsorship Brochure
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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