Levelling Up the North: Harnessing Technology for Regional Development

Hannah Wilshire

The Levelling Up policy, introduced by the UK government in 2019, aims to bridge regional disparities and boost equal opportunities across the country. Within this policy, the technology sector has emerged as a key driver of economic growth, with predictions of a £232 billion boost to the UK economy by 2040. The North of England, in particular, has been identified as a prime area for technology investment and innovation, making it an exciting region to watch for tech advancements. In this blog post, we will explore some notable initiatives and projects in different cities of the North, showcasing how technology is being leveraged to deliver digital transformation and foster inclusive growth. To hear more, please sign up for our new Digital Government North event, taking place on 14th September, 2023, live in Manchester!

Manchester: The Tech Innovation Hub

Manchester has become a focal point for tech innovation, strategy, and implementation. The city is home to several tech unicorns, government hubs, and digital projects. The government plans to move 2,500 officials to a digitally enabled Manchester hub, with a capacity of 8,000, set to open in 2025. The Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology has also announced the opening of a new office space in Marble Street. Manchester Council has launched a four-year digital strategy focused on being "cloud first" and "digital first," aiming to maximise resources, tackle the climate emergency, deliver social value, and promote inclusion.

Advanced Digital Skills Academy in Nelson, Lancashire

Nelson has received a funding boost of £2.29 million for an Advanced Digital Skills Academy. This initiative aims to address the digital skills gap within the community and help tackle the region's challenges in the technology sector. By equipping individuals with advanced digital skills, this academy aims to empower the local workforce and foster economic growth.

Nottingham: Filling the Digital Skills Gap

Nottingham is actively working on filling the digital skills gap through various partnerships and initiatives. The Change Academy, in collaboration with PwC, has identified council employees to undergo PwC training and development programs. Partnerships with Nottingham Trent University and the University of Nottingham are also being developed to address the broader digital skills gap in society. De Montfort University in Leicester has secured £6.5 million in funding to revolutionize digital learning, further enhancing the region's educational landscape.

Leeds City Centre

Digital Inclusion in Leeds

Leeds is leading the way in digital inclusion efforts. Initiatives like Women in Leeds Digital (WILD) aim to encourage minority groups to pursue careers in the digital sector. The Leeds Digital Charity Ball raises funds for organizations that support digital inclusion. The city's 100% Digital Leeds program has trained over 3,000 Digital Champions from various sectors, fostering digital literacy and increasing access to technology.

Focus on Connectivity - Project Gigabit

Connectivity remains a crucial aspect of levelling up the North. Efforts such as the government's Project Gigabit, with Cumbria being the first regional contract awarded, aim to provide lightning-fast gigabit-capable broadband to hard-to-reach communities. Liverpool has committed to improving digital infrastructure, including the creation of a 200+km fibre backhaul network. These investments aim to bridge the digital divide and promote equal access to digital services.

The North of England is witnessing a surge of technology-driven initiatives that aim to level up the region and foster inclusive growth. From advanced digital skills academies to government hubs, from digital inclusion programs to connectivity projects, technology is playing a vital role in shaping the future of the North. As these efforts continue to unfold, it is clear that the North's tech sector is poised for significant growth and will continue to contribute to the country's overall economic prosperity. 

Digital Government North

Want to hear more about levelling up and digital transformation in the North? Simply register for your free public sector place at Digital Government North and hear from experts working at North Yorkshire County Authority,  Scottish Futures Trust, Wigan Council and Greater Manchester Combined Authority.