Sir Henry Royce First Pic 2

Powerhouse group calls for centres of excellence

The Northern Powerhouse Partnership has published a report setting out evidence-based proposals concerning four areas in which it said the North can excel.

The Powerhouse 2050: The North’s Routemap for Productivity report has been submitted to Government with the hope that it can influence policy ahead in the autumn Budget on 22 November.

The projects include £60m for the North to be the first region in the UK to commit fully to industrial digitisation, harnessing the Internet of Things and automation. It also includes a £100m investment to reinforce the North as the UK leader in health data by investing in the Connected Health Cities project.

The partnership also calls for £1bn to be invested in creating a new Northern industry in small nuclear reactors, and £2bn to replace the entire gas network of Leeds with hydrogen, produced in the Tees Valley. Much of the government funding called for would, in theory, come from the Industrial Strategy Fund.

The key point for the property industry is a proposal for centres of excellence to be developed. Among much talk of improving collaboration between various manufacturing and science centres, with those namechecked including the Sir Henry Royce Institute and Daresbury, there are specific recommendations for establishing a Northern Energy Centre of Excellence, funded from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Similarly, the NPP wishes to establish a Northern Centre of Excellence for Civic Computation, a hub and spoke approach of an observatory with a network in each part of the North, supported by £20m from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and leveraging private investment.

The digital report was led by Stephen Church, partner at EY. He said: “I believe this report has the potential to create a number of world-class industries in the North of England, which could make a significant contribution to the wider UK economy.

“Enhanced connectivity, such as fibre to the premises broadband or 5G roll-out, and better support for start-ups would be major advances in how we embrace the digital age, but equally important is creating incubators and co-working spaces to suit the needs of a modern workforce.”

More than 500 businesses, universities and other members of the partnership have been involved in research and workshops examining how to maximise capabilities in advanced manufacturing and materials, energy, digital and health innovation.

The Northern Powerhouse Partnership is the group set up by ex-Chancellor George Osborne.

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