N8 chair says Northern voices vital in innovation policy-making

  • N8 leadership meet MPs at parliamentary event to discuss Innovation-led economic growth

THE N8 Research Partnership has outlined its vision for Innovation-led Northern economic growth in an event at the Houses of Parliament. N8 presented itself as a willing partner in ensuring that northern research voices are heard in national innovation and economic policy making.


Picture Parliamentary ReceptionPhoto (Left to right): Professor Jason Halford, Lord John Prescott, Chi Onwurah MP, Professor Koen Lamberts

Newly appointed N8 chair, Professor Koen Lamberts delivered the keynote address to an audience of MPs, government department officials and leading academics at a specially convened reception at the Houses of Parliament. He began by underlining the strength of the North’s research and innovation base, which has world class assets and expertise in academic, research centres and business.

Professor Lamberts explained that the Northern universities, through the N8, are driving increased collaboration across the region. He reiterated that the N8 universities are passionately committed to playing a central role in regional economic growth and called for further major investment in Northern world-class research and innovation capabilities, improved infrastructure, and support for research translation and cross pollination between academia and public and private sectors.

Professor Lamberts said: “The North has distinctive research strengths that can be translated into innovation-led growth – taking the region towards an economic future built on world class research centres.

“However, Northern innovation ambitions will need national government support to turn them into reality. TheN8 Research Partnership can serve as a coherent regional voice with national government about the exciting potential of an innovation-led economy for of the North.”

Two key N8 research areas highlighted throughout the event were N8 AgriFood and Urban Transformation. MPs heard from N8 AgriFood Academic Lead, Professor Sue Hartley, University of York and Professor Jason Halford at the University of Liverpool, who is researching how changing consumer behaviour can improve the health of communities.

Urban and Community Transformation combines insights from multiple research strands and sectors with the potential to bring about positive urban change. Professor Rachel Cooper at the University of Lancaster and Professor Dinah Birch at the University of Liverpool both presented at the meeting. This programme also includes N8’s pioneering research collaboration with the Northern police forces and police and crime commissioners that enables policing innovation to address real-world challenges, led by Professor Adam Crawford at the University of Leeds.

The event was sponsored by Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Upon Tyne Central and Shadow Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills, as well as Culture, Media and Sport.

Ms Onwurah said: “Increasing the skills base for the region is key to our economy. Also, ensuring we provide a careers path and attractive lifestyle to retain our highly skilled graduates within the region. N8 Universities can play an important role in addressing these key challenges.”

Other speakers at the event included Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President of University of Manchester, who articulated the strengths of collaboration exemplified through equipment sharing between N8 universities, and the existing regional strengths in advanced materials and life sciences. Professor David Hogg, Pro VC for Research and Innovation at the University of Leeds spoke on how N8 High Performance Computing is supporting business innovation.