Northern Powerhouse report puts digital at the centre of £3bn call for investment

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by Stephen Chapman

A report released today by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership says the Government must invest more than £3bn in the region, to create 850k jobs.

It believes a “Digital North” operation should be established to look at access to finance and promote economic growth. This would include a £30m fund for tech start-ups; better using money allocated through the British Business Bank; and the ultra-fast roll out of pilots across the North with full fibre connectivity and a 5G network.

The Powerhouse 2050 report also calls for the creation of a Northern Centre of Excellence for Civic Computation.

This, it believes, would create the “synergies between the strengths of the North in AI, machine learning and data analytics by bringing together individuals’ data held by public bodies to address real world problems, particularly those arising from social and economic inequalities.”

The publication was backed by Siemens, Drax and Manchester Airports Group and headed up by former Tatton MP, George Osborne.

“I believe this report has the potential to create a number of world-class industries in the North of England, which could make a significant contribution to the wider UK economy,” stated Stephen Church, partner at EY.

“Enhanced connectivity, such as fibre to the premises broadband or 5G roll-out, and better support for start-ups would be major advances in how we embrace the digital age, but equally important is creating incubators and co-working spaces to suit the needs of a modern workforce.”

The proposals have been submitted to the Government, for it to consider in the Autumn Budget.