Posted on 11 February 2016
Newly appointed N8 chair, the University of York’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Koen Lamberts, delivered the keynote address to an audience of MPs, civil servants and leading academics at a reception at the Houses of Parliament. He underlined 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 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.
He 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 during the event were Agri-Food Resilience and Urban and Community Transformation. The Agri-Food programme includes how bringing together N8’s research farms and world-class facilities provides a new platform for business to evaluate agricultural innovations, with vital impact on regeneration of the rural economy and MPs heard from Academic Lead, Professor Sue Hartley of the University of York.
Urban and Community Transformation combines insights from multiple research strands and sectors with the potential to bring about positive urban change. These include 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 included Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President of University of Manchester, who focused on the strengths of collaboration exemplified through equipment sharing between N8 universities, and the existing regional strengths in advanced materials and life sciences.
The N8 Research Partnership (N8) is the collaboration body for the universities of Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, and York, and aims to maximise the impact of this research base to enable business innovation and societal transformation.
The N8 universities undertake more than £650m of research income each year and employ more than 18,000 academic staff, forming the largest research-pooling partnership in the UK.
N8 creates programmes involving a critical mass of world class academics which form networks of innovation excellence with partners in other sectors – to drive investment and economic growth.
N8’s main areas of research are Urban and Community Transformation – including Policing Research, Urban Living and Arts and Culture; and Agri-Food – including Sustainable Food Production, Consumption & Health, and Resilient Supply Chains. N8’s strategy also focuses on areas of growth notably in Life Sciences, and in Digital Creativity.