Two manufacturing heavyweights with links to South Yorkshire will be speaking at a conference that aims to drive the Northern Powerhouse forward.
Prof Keith Ridgway, executive dean of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, part of Sheffield University, and Juergen Maier, chief executive of Siemens UK, will be at the Great Northern Conference.
It will bring together leading figures and shine a spotlight on how to close the economic divide between the North and the rest of the UK.
The event has attracted a ‘Who’s Who’ of leading figures from politics, business and academia who will discuss areas such as skills, education, innovation and connectivity.
The all-day conference on Tuesday February 26 at the Royal Armouries in Leeds will be chaired by one of the architects of the Northern Powerhouse, former Chancellor, the Rt Hon. George Osborne. Other speakers include Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry, and Transport for the North Chief Executive Barry White.
The conference is particularly timely: recent data revealed that despite a determined drive to narrow the North-South economic divide, productivity in areas such as Leeds, York, Humber and Greater Manchester continues to drift behind the national average.
Meanwhile, debate continues over the idea of a devolved North of England government department with its own ‘secretary of state’ and tax-raising status.
Launching the conference, Mr Berry said the event would examine the “big question of how to drive Northern productivity”.
He added: “Many areas have been increasing productivity, but as we improve transport connectivity across the Pennines and invest through the Industrial Strategy, this progress must be accelerated.
“This is not just about a greater and ambitious North, but building a greater country.”
The Great Northern Conference 2019 is sponsored by CYBG, LNER, the Northern Powerhouse Partnership and The Star’s parent company JPIMedia.
Prof Ridgway worked with local businessman Adrian Allen to launch the AMRC with Boeing in 2001. In 2009, he helped launch the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.
For full details of speakers and to buy tickets go to: greatnorthernpowerhouse.co.uk