Innovation and digital will cement North’s role in rebalancing UK, says EY chief economist

Mark Gregory, EY
X The Business Desk

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Stimulating and embedding a culture of enterprise and innovation across the North remains fundamental to the region becoming a global powerhouse that creates wealth and jobs, and helps to re-balance the UK economy.

That’s according to EY’s chief economist Mark Gregory, speaking about our Northern Growth Accelerators programme, which launches today and aims to celebrate the best of business across the region.

“I think digital is at the heart of that transformation,” he told TheBusinessDesk.com “But also for me, a growth accelerator doesn’t have to be about a particular growth sector – it’s about your place in the value chain.

“Clusters around specialisms do work, if they are global specialisms that mean a business is looking at growth in a more strategic way.”

Gregory gave the example of Graphene and the opportunity for Manchester to develop a niche industry with specialist expertise and IP. He also talked of the importance of collaboration.

He said: “It’s clear when I speak at events around the country that Manchester is seen as an exemplar in terms of getting business and local government to work together for the benefit of all.

“That’s part of the recipe for business growth but also the North already has a very diversified economy. That’s a real strength.

“The Northern Powerhouse agenda gives the opportunity to link up some of our core northern cities like Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool to those smaller towns like never before but to do that we need the transport infrastructure and access to resources and a shared skills agenda.

“The skills gap will improve – younger people are already seeing that they don’t have to leave the North to do things. The North is in control of its own destiny.”

Gregory’s comments mark the start of a long-term collaborative project between EY and TheBusinessdesk.com.

Northern Growth Accelerators will include in-depth interviews with some of the most innovative, entrepreneurial and inspiring businesses from across the North. We’ll also be showcasing up and coming fast-growth businesses that we think are ones to watch for the future.

We hope their stories will not only demonstrate that the North is a vibrant and attractive place to do business but also inform and inspire other businesses across the region to go for growth.

We will hear from successful businesses from across the region including Evoke Creative, The Floow and Nexus, about the challenges they have overcome, and the opportunities they have created for themselves throughout their business journeys.

The programme will also give our readers the opportunity to hear experiences and insight from some of EY’s partners who are working with entrepreneurial businesses across the North.

One partner specialising in working with entrepreneurial businesses and sharing his insights and knowledge is Alastair Nuttall.

Nuttall said: “We benefit from a spread of strong city destinations with significant contribution from Salford, Liverpool, Barnsley, Bradford, Doncaster and Sheffield among others.

“I think this just goes to show that we remain a force to be reckoned with and an attractive place for entrepreneurs to grow and develop their ideas and businesses.

“And it is this variety of ideas that will enable us to grow and develop the economy in different ways, attracting the best talent and continuing to be innovative and disrupt the norm.”

The Northern Growth Accelerators project is about helping your business to drive growth, whatever that might look like. To that end, we’ll be profiling entrepreneurs finding all sorts of ways to disrupt traditional markets in well established businesses as well as those not nearly as far on their journey.

Our first in-depth profile will launch next week – but as well as a monthly in-depth feature we want to feature as many innovative, fast-growing businesses from across the North as possible and there are opportunities to case study many more companies. If you think your company could fit the bill, please do get in touch with the editor on joanne.birtwistle@thebusinessdesk.com.

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