Dr Annette Bramley, director of the N8 Research Partnership said: “There’s a significant amount to admire in the government’s long awaited levelling up whitepaper. Most notably, I am encouraged by the pledges that the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will invest at least 55% of their domestic R&D funding outside the Greater South East by 2024/5.
“However, it is not clear at this stage whether this includes the funding allocated to UK Research and Innovation and we will need to wait to see the detail of to see how this will be delivered in practice. However, if this policy reaches its full potential this could a transformative impact on the UK research base.
“We are particularly pleased to note the specific reference to increasing National Institute for Health Research funding outside of the Golden Triangle as we know that this will have a direct benefit on the health and wealth of the North of England.
“We also welcome the announcement of investment in innovation accelerators, including one in Greater Manchester. Further investments in clusters and regional research and innovation ecosystems will be needed to fully harness all the talent and ideas across the UK and help our country reach its Net Zero aims.
“The N8 Research Partnership has long said the UK will not achieve the government’s aim of becoming a science and technology superpower without fully harnessing the power of our northern universities combined with skills and business. The transition to net-zero offers huge opportunities for individuals, firms and the North. Levelling-up through the green economy is a huge opportunity that still requires long-term support and new investment at scale from both the public and private sectors.
“Elsewhere in the white paper, we applaud the initiatives to tackle the shameful systemic inequalities that cause so much harm to the youngest in our society. As demonstrated in our recent Child of the North report produced with the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA), levelling up will never be achieved without investing in our children now. Our report showed how the loss of learning experienced over the course of the pandemic will cost an estimated £24.6 billion in lost wages over lifetime earnings to children growing up in the North.
“Action must be taken to support the current Covid generation of children, in tandem with the white paper’s pledge to get 90% of children of the next generation to achieve the expected standard of reading, writing and maths by 2030. The missions to reduce the gaps in Healthy Life Expectancy and wellbeing are also welcome steps to giving our children the best start in life and happy, productive lives thereafter.
“Stakeholders from across the N8 have been laying the groundwork for the delivery of government’s levelling up agenda for many years. There are many promising points on which we can build in this white paper, and we look forward to working with colleagues in government to make our shared vision a reality.”