“We have reignited the conversation about the North’s digital ask. This has given us a single voice and the clout we need when talking to the powers that be in Whitehall.”
Stephen Church, Partner, EY


The Innovation Sprint was designed with a single goal – to help the North to embrace disruptive technologies effectively to drive business transformation and economic growth.

The events attracted Northern business leaders from a wide range of sectors. They included large multinational companies, SMEs, tech specialists, academics, members of the media, and nobody wasted the chance to have their say.

The Northern business community has spoken and wants to directly inform what happens next.

As announced in the Budget, the government will publish its refreshed Northern Powerhouse Strategy next year. We stand ready to influence that.

All of these recommendations have been borne out of the Innovation Sprint events. They are based on what real businesses are experiencing and think is necessary to drive the next Industrial Revolution.

The Innovation Sprint’s six key recommendations:


Appoint a single, inspirational Northern voice and figurehead who represents the North’s digital agenda to spearhead and drive real change, and bring business on the transformation journey.


Help to increase awareness and access to digital solutions by creating a central, comprehensive point for signposting, with links to tech education and support resources, events and services.


Better connect across ecosystems to drive effective collaboration by creating a formal forum for Northern businesses to share knowledge and best practice.


Leverage the Northern Powerhouse brand to articulate the story of the North as a centre for world-class innovation on a national and international level. The challenge here is for the North LEPs and devolved authorities to work together better and better link our cities.


Create and support a dedicated network of Northern centres of technological excellence to help businesses know where to turn for support, link investors to their next big opportunity, and nurture a community culture between these centres.


Universities should consult with businesses in their region on the delivery of course content. The measures of their success should not just record the percentage of people who went on to get jobs but also what those jobs were and crucially, where they are based – a degree of accountability as to what the university is giving back to its local community.