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Businesses are finally seeing the beauty of the North

Greg Devine


a landscape photo of Whitby in North Yorkshire, England, containing: sea views, castles, housing and ships

I’m biased on this topic as I love the North. I’m proud to come from Yorkshire. I don’t envy those in the South. I’m even choosing to move further north to attend Newcastle University, so hearing that more and more businesses are following suit and choosing to come up here from the south fills me with excitement.

Leeds, in particular, is experiencing a boom. The West Yorkshire city is garnering a reputation for developing highly skilled staff that are in short supply elsewhere in the country. Deep Tech companies are particularly blossoming in Leeds (Deep Tech refers to companies that specialise in the next wave of technological advances, such as Artificial Intelligence, Bio-Tech and robotics).

Channel 4 has also moved its head offices to Leeds, within an old nightclub building, which further shows that the city is redeveloping itself. Leeds also has the financial power to support start-ups and fund innovation, especially in healthcare, but also in more traditional industries, such as finance, legal services, manufacturing, and retail.

So why is the North such a good place for highly skilled workers within the tech sector? I believe this is down to the fantastic universities the North contains. The University of Manchester is a top 5 University for Computer Science, according to The Complete University Guide. Leeds, Sheffield, York and Durham are all in the top 20, and Newcastle sits in thirty-first place, but I’d expect this to rise after the huge investments planned in this area.

The North has incredible potential to become a technological powerhouse, but the Government continues to neglect it. Boris Johnson continually mentions the Northern Powerhouse, yet he reduced HS2 to a highspeed line that stops at Birmingham. Transport links from London to Birmingham, Leeds and Newcastle are already solid, yet links to Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool and Bradford are awful. It’s a waste of a skilled workforce. There’s so much potential in the North; however, whilst the UK remains London-centric, this potential will never be tapped into.

Train pulling into a station in urban southern England.

Train pulling into a station in urban southern England.

Manchester and Leeds are both popular places for start-ups, but just think how many more businesses could thrive in the North with improved transport links. Access to Leeds is solid, but transport within Leeds is poor; it’s the largest city in Western Europe without a mass transit system, such as the Metro or trams. Manchester, Sheffield and Newcastle can all boast these: Newcastle has the Tyne and Wear Metro; Sheffield has the Supertram, and Tram Train that links with nearby Rotherham; and Manchester has an extensive tram network.

Let us not forget the UK’s newest city, Doncaster. It has great rail links, thanks to its historic ties to the railway, and an international airport. It’s another city that, with the right investment, could become a technological powerhouse. Novus and ITK magazine are based in Doncaster, and we’re all excited to see how the city may improve around us.

One of the reasons I’m choosing to study in Newcastle is because I believe it could become a thriving hub for technology. A new business park called the Helix recently opened and Newcastle University has its Universal Sciences Building there, which houses its computer science course. This is just one example of Newcastle’s investment in technology. The city has great transport links to London via train, to the rest of the world via its international airport, and across the city itself, thanks to its Metro system. It’s certainly a city full of potential for my future career prospects and goals.

The North is an untapped goldmine for businesses. I’m filled with confidence for my future, now that the business world is realising what the North could offer. It’s a shame the Government seems to only focus on London, despite it already being at capacity.

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