‘New technologies have potential to transform the North’

Posted on 5 Oct 2017 by Jonny Williamson

Automation, digital technology, advanced manufacturing, energy and health innovation are all areas that have the potential to transform the North’s economy, according to a new report.

Angel of the North, Northern Powerhouse - Stock Image
New technologies have the potential to transform the North’s economy

The report ‘Powerhouse 2050 – transforming the North’ has set out details of how the North could generate an additional £100bn worth of economic benefit and 850,000 jobs through new technologies.

The report says while government funding is called for, it is also clear that there is a requirement for businesses to invest and support these and many other initiatives.

This support is already happening; with one major bank already committing £2.2bn to lend to SMEs in 2017 alone.

In this context, the report, driven by major employers including Manchester Airports Group, Siemens and Drax, has identified four key areas where investment is needed.

  1. £60m for the North to be the first region in the UK to commit fully to Industrial Digitisation –  such Greater Manchester leading the Internet of Things, and automation to become more productive and competitive.
  2. £100m to reinforce the North as the UK leader in health data by investing in Connected Health Cities harnessing patient data to diagnose, treat and deliver services more effectively and efficiently across the region. 
  3. £2bn to replace the entire gas network of Leeds with hydrogen, produced in the Tees Valley, which would significantly contribute to the UK’s 2050 and Paris Agreement commitments on reducing carbon emissions.
  4. £1bn to creating a new Northern industry in small nuclear reactors, capable of being manufactured at a plant and brought to a site to be built and allowing for better nuclear material security.

Professor Juergen Maier, who led the advanced manufacturing and materials research, said: “This Northern Powerhouse Partnership report sets out bold and original initiatives that could, with appropriate levels of funding and support, have a transformational effect on the North of England and provide a vital boost to productivity.

“The digital reindustrialisation of the North of England is an essential part of our economic future to ensure that UK growth benefits the country as a whole.

“As digitalisation becomes central to our society and the future of manufacturing, the UK needs to invest in automation, innovation and science to give our UK industries the boost they need to be globally competitive.”

Andy Koss, CEO of Drax Power, who led the Energy engagement, said: “The North is uniquely placed to deliver the UK’s energy needs.

“There are huge opportunities for us as a region – not just in terms of potential jobs and the economic benefits, but also the positive environmental impacts associated with decarbonisation.

“In the North we lead the way in existing energy technologies such as bioenergy, offshore wind and nuclear power – all vital in delivering the Government’s Industrial Strategy.”