Northern universities including Sheffield helping economy grow

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, vice-chancellor, University of Sheffield

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, vice-chancellor, University of Sheffield

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Northern universities, including Sheffield, have been praised by a top academic following a report showing the valuable contribution they make to the economy.

Vice-chancellor of The University of Sheffield, professor Sir Keith Burnett, said they played a significant role in creating jobs and prosperity across the region.

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, a report by the N8 Research partnership has revealed.

It says the N8 universities contribute £6.6bn of GVA (gross value added) to the Northern economy each year.

The report also reveals the universities of Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York together delivered a total of 119,000 full time equivalent jobs​. And it found that the N8 universities attracted £1.26bn of research funding per annum.

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

Professor Burnett 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.”

The findings prompted calls by vice-chancellor of the University of York and Chair of N8, professor Koen Lamberts, 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. The Government’s Northern Powerhouse agenda can and should play a major role in creating an environment that enables our universities to generate even more benefit to the Northern and wider UK economy.

The report highlights key findings including showing that N8 universities attract annual research income of £1.26bn, 88 percent of all Northern Higher Education research income. Their economic activity is worth a total of £12.2bn to the Northern economy. It also shows that N8 universities contribute a larger share of North of England Region GVA than the entire Northern media Industry, agriculture, or motor vehicle manufacturing, sectors.

The report highlights the fact that N8 universities provide consultancy services to more than 17,000 small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and the N8 universities have a 10-year track record of successfulcollaboration and 13 percent of research funding comes from Europe.