Northern Universities economic value is 'double Premier League'

Northern Universities economic value is 'double Premier League'

The value to the economy of the eight most research-intensive universities in the Northern Powerhouse region is ‘almost double’ that of the entire Premier League, according to a new report.

The N8 universities contribute £6.6bn of GVA (gross value added) to the Northern economy per year.

The scale and breadth of the economic impact of the universities is revealed in a report by the N8 Research Partnership – The Power of 8: Knowledge, Innovation and Growth for the North.

The report also reveals the universities of Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York together generated a total of 119,000 FTE jobs - equivalent to all the jobs within a city the size of Salford.

The report also highlights the importance of EU funding with some 13%, or £127m, of competitive research funding for the N8 universities coming from the European Union.

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Manchester said: “This report demonstrates the very significant positive contribution of the University of Liverpool and its partner institutions across the North of England, helping to create jobs and prosperity in our local communities.”

The findings prompted calls by Professor Koen Lamberts, Vice-Chancellor of the University of York and Chair of N8, for Prime Minister Theresa May to accelerate the Government’s plans by increasing investment in infrastructure and innovation in the North.

Professor Lamberts said: “This research paints a compelling and comprehensive picture of the contribution our universities make to the Northern economy, creating jobs and prosperity for people from all walks of life.  It makes abundantly clear that N8 universities are not just world-class research institutions, but also major economic enterprises, generating significant revenue and economic activity and driving inward investment.

“We need to be able to attract and retain the world’s most talented academics, researchers and students; we need to ensure that our students, staff and partners can easily access our world-leading facilities; and we need to attract innovative overseas businesses so that we have a genuinely international innovation and enterprise eco-system.”

The report highlights the role played by the N8 universities in helping to establish new businesses, the commercialisation of innovation, and the development of the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Key findings include:

  • N8 universities attract annual research income of £1.26bn, 88% of all Northern Higher Education research income
  • Their economic activity is worth a total of £12.2bn to the Northern economy
  • N8 universities contribute a larger share of North of England Region GVA than the entire Northern media Industry, agriculture, or motor vehicle manufacturing, sectors
  • N8 universities provide consultancy services to more than 17,000 small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs)
  • The N8 universities have a 10-year track record of successfully collaborating across the region
  • 13% of the N8 universities’ research funding comes from European Union sources

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The report has been endorsed by Former Deputy Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Lord Heseltine who, writing in it, says the findings show that the research-intensive universities of N8 can be at the forefront of a rejuvenated Northern economy, and play a central role in strengthening and stabilising industries through new ideas, innovations and insights.

He said: “As the devolution of important powers to cities and regions moves forward, partnerships between cities and universities can provide a clear voice of leadership and ideas, and can create a high-skill, innovation-driven future.

“I believe and expect the N8 universities, working individually and together, to be at the forefront of a rejuvenated Northern economy.”

Professor Mark E. Smith, Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster University, said: “This report demonstrates the very significant positive contribution of Lancaster University and its partner institutions across the North of England, helping to create jobs and prosperity in our local communities.

“Lancaster University is strongly focused on working with business and has helped create more than 4,000 jobs through working with more than 5,000 SMEs.

“Our work to support businesses and the economy has been recognised by the inaugural Educate North Awards and an independent assessment identified Lancaster University to be worth at least £250 million to the regional economy, supporting more than 5,200 jobs, and worth £630m to the national economy, protecting more than 10,000 jobs.

“This review also revealed Lancaster’s business engagement projects, which are all research-informed, boosted the North West’s economy by £15.80 for each public sector pound received –demonstrating an outstanding return on investment.”

Professor Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor, University ofLiverpool said: “This report demonstrates the very significant positive contribution of the University of Liverpool and its partner institutions across the North of England, helping to create jobs and prosperity in our local communities.”

Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, said: “This report demonstrates the very significant positive contribution of Durham University and its partner institutions across the North of England, helping to create jobs and prosperity in our local communities.

“Durham University is committed to working with businesses, residents, the voluntary sector, staff, students and other partners to ensure we deliver the best for our city and region.”

Sir Alan Langlands, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, said: “Leeds success in bringing hundreds of millions of pounds of research funding to the north of England as part of the N8 has strengthened the region and our sector as a whole.

“The announcement this month of our £40m Nexus centre to support innovative new private sector companies, giving them access to our world-leading researchers is a strong indicator of how we use our expertise to benefit new and growing businesses.”

Professor Chris Brink, Vice Chancellor, Newcastle University said: “This report demonstrates the very significant positive contribution of the N8 Partnership across the North of England, helping to create jobs and prosperity in our local communities. At Newcastle University we take particular pride in our civic engagement role within our own city and region.”

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of The University of Sheffield said: “The North was once the workshop of the world, and this report demonstrates ways in which the North's leading research-intensive universities play a significant role in creating jobs and prosperity across the region. 

“The Sheffield City Region is taking a leading role in supporting the rebalance of the economy by developing the world-leading materials, processes and skills needed to re-shore manufacturing and bring much-needed international investment to the North of England.

“The N8 universities show that we already have the innovation links in place to support Northern growth, but we also need the right level of infrastructure investment to connect our cities and assets together to bring meaningful economic transformation.”