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  • Railway Investment in the East

    By James Palmer, Chair, Eastern Powerhouse People in Britain want to use the train. Between 1997 and 2014 passenger usage went up by 88% and the UK is the 5th most used rail network in the world, despite having the 23rd largest population. Despite this, it is the accepted norm that train travel in the East of England is slow and expensive. Little has changed East of Peterborough in the past 40 years, small amounts of electrification here and there and a couple of new stations, yet barely a nod to the increase in train usage and certainly nothing as exciting as a long term plan to upgrade and encourage use. The Department for Transport may suggest that the lack of population density doesn’t require added capacity but considering the growth of the economy here in the same time period, it feels like a huge opportunity missed. It is difficult not to look with envy at the money currently being lavished on the rail network in the midlands and the north. Whilst the new link between Cambridge and Bedford is welcome, it hardly amounts to an upgrade of the current system, nor does it address the challenges that face a growing economy in the East of England. In fact, to suggest that the wrongly titled East West rail link is anything more than an absolute bargain basement solution would be to stretch the truth considerably. In the East though, we have grown weary of banging our heads against the wall and so blindy accept that any investment is welcome, when frankly, what is offered are the crumbs left behind under the altar of national rail policy. The economy in the East is considerably hampered by the quality of the network. It takes 30 minutes less to travel to London from Leicester than from Norwich, a 45 min journey to central London from Tunbridge Wells is almost half the price of the same length journey from Cambridge. Why? It certainly doesn’t feel like a level playing field. Our trains should be used to hop from town to city in the region but lack of regularity and a slow network mean that our rail is under utilised and that is felt most keenly in the housing hotspots across the region. Yet the East offers government a huge opportunity for change. East of the mainline to Edinburgh, we have a self-contained network that is independent of the rest of UK rail. It is well known that international investors are keen to get into the UK market – and no wonder, given the statistics mentioned above. Surely there is a franchise opportunity for the East that must be explored? The government has recognised the need for an East West link but it falls short, stopping at Cambridge rather than Felixstowe, surely they also recognise that investment into rail in the East will show them significant return at the treasury, particularly if that investment comes from the international private sector? Since the rail network in the East was developed by the Victorians, little has changed. It was once thought that the peak of rail usage was the early 50’s, yet the railway is used more now than ever. The easiest way to move people and freight remains the rail and there is a way to bring that rail network kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. I suggest to government, if you open the door to franchising here in the East, it will set a template for the future policy of Network Rail.

  • How can the East attract investment and foster growth?

    On 23rd February, the Eastern Powerhouse hosted its first annual Conference, ‘A Growth Vision for the East’. Speakers and participants discussed the opportunities for growth in three key thematic areas – Skills, Innovation, Infrastructure – and what investment and policy interventions are needed: Skills Keynote speaker Sir Philip Augar emphasised the importance of skills, alongside investment and science, in meeting the UK’s productivity challenge. The most important priority is for a substantial refunding of the FE & Skills sector to reverse the downward trend in real terms funding over the past decade. “The Productivity issue will be solved with a combination of Investment, Science, and Skills. Investment needs to come from Government, Business, and Learners. It needs to be a mix.” Sir Philip Augar The expert panel reflected on the situation in the East of England, where travel to learn is a real barrier for students of all ages given the weak transport infrastructure. We need to raise aspirations amongst young people and make them more aware of all the options available. Schools currently don’t value vocational courses sufficiently, so teachers and parents need information, advice and guidance, as well as students. Both Anglia Ruskin - with ARU Peterborough the youngest Higher Education Institute in England - West Suffolk College and the University of Suffolk are very vocationally focused and work actively with businesses to meet skills gaps, but the post-16 education system is complex and fragmented. One practical step forward would be the creation of a regional Skills Hub, a “one stop shop” where skill-seekers and employers could get full information on opportunities. (Moderated by: Dr Marius Ostrowski, Executive Director, Lifelong Education Commission Speakers: Sir Philip Augar; Prof. Helen Langton, Vice-Chancellor, University of Suffolk; Prof. Ross Renton, Principal, ARU Peterborough; Candy Richards, Development Manager, Federation of Small Businesses; Dr Nikos Savvas, CEO, Eastern Colleges Group) Innovation This session discussed the importance of innovation to long term productivity and growth. It began with a conceptual understanding of innovation as it applies to different types and size of business with insights from UKRI and the Digital Catapult about the role of public policy and research institutions in stimulating research and development. “We have a landscape that is littered with the heritage of various policies and strategies on innovation over the years. The more we can align, the more effective we can be.” Dr Jeremy Silver, CEO, Digital Catapult Generally, publicly funded innovation programmes have a push pull approach – looking for specific projects in specific sectors but also open to new approaches. Both UKRI and the Digital Catapult stated their ability to grant fund at scale. We heard that the East of England is endowed with knowledge-intensive and innovation-led sectors in new science and technology industries, such as life sciences, green energy, agritech, and information technology. Much of this is clustered around the world-class universities of Cambridge but there are other beacons of light across the region including: Norwich Research Park specialising in biotech, agritech and medical science; Adastral Park, in Ipswich, home to a global cluster of high-tech telecommunication and technology companies; and Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, a leading location for companies to develop and commercialise cutting edge therapeutics and gene cell technologies. R&D funding in these industries is critical to increasing prosperity through the adoption of new products and services, and the creation of higher-wage jobs. But the uneven distribution of innovation and economic gains can potentially widen regional inequalities. Increasing public and private investment for R&D, universities and other research institutions is therefore a crucial element in boosting innovation in the East of England. Panel members, which included Innovation leaders in the region like Lotus Cars and NIAB, spoke to the problems of relative skill shortages, transport infrastructure constraints, and a failure of public innovation policy to support clusters beyond the ‘golden triangle’ as a key barrier to boosting the growth potential of the East. Overcoming these constraints will be vital to those firms and sectors in which innovation activity is concentrated and in helping to crowd in smaller firms that may benefit from R&D. Innovation policy, and public expenditure, in the UK needs to be more direct and less place-blind in order to narrow regional disparities. (Moderated by: Phillip Blond, Director, Eastern Powerhouse Speakers: David Rogers, Deputy Director – Investment Strategy, UKRI; Dr Jeremy Silver, CEO, Digital Catapult; Prof. Mario Caccamo, CEO, NIAB; Dr Sally Ann Forsyth OBE, CEO, Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst; Jane Hutchins, Director, Cambridge Science Park; Matt Windle, Group VP and MD, Lotus Cars) Infrastructure The panel discussed the requirements for investing in energy, rail and housing and the vital role this will play in economic growth, creating tens of thousands of jobs across the region, including some of the most deprived rural and coastal communities. Transport is perhaps the most visible indicator of how limited infrastructure is holding back growth in the region. East-West rail will significantly improve connectivity between two of our country’s fastest growing innovation hubs (Oxford and Cambridge) but upgrades to the regional network must be extended to the main economic centres (Norwich, Ipswich, Peterborough) and beyond to coastal towns and communities. The panel discussed the concept of 30-minute cities and how better connections can improve commuting and accessibility while reducing the region’s carbon footprint. The upgrade to Ely North is central to this vision. The region’s transport network should provide the basis for a spatial plan that can drive future development, densifying business activity and housing in and around major transport hubs as well as building along major corridors. Panellists discussed the difficulties of building housing, at scale, across different planning authorities and the need for improvements to the region’s energy grid so that the East can take advantage of its natural resources and assets to create green and sustainable energy. A spatial strategy for the whole region will guide investment in infrastructure that can connect places – cities, towns, villages - to grow the regional economy as part of an integrated and coherent industrial strategy. (Moderated by: James Palmer, Chair, Eastern Powerhouse Speakers: Lord Andrew Lansley, Chair, Cambridge Development Forum Sarah Jane Crawford, Principal Programme Sponsor – Anglia Route, Network Rail; Andy Hill OBE, Chief Executive, The Hill Group; Mark Sommerfeld, Head of Power & Flexibility, Renewable Energy Association; Beth West, CEO, East West Rail; Peter Whitmore, Managing Director – East, Morgan Sindall)

  • A Growth Vision for the East - Conference

    REGISTER About the Conference The East of England is one of the most economically successful regions in the country. Despite this, several barriers to growth and prosperity exist, which require a bold and unifying policy vision to address them. Filling skills gaps, fostering innovation at scale, and upgrading infrastructure are the three areas of concern that Businesses and Local Authorities are consistently identifying as the ones holding back the region’s prospects. With this in mind, the Eastern Powerhouse is organising its inaugural Conference on 23rd February in Cambridge, bringing together Business Leaders, Politicians, Policymakers, and wider stakeholders, to discuss how the East can attract both Government and Private attention and investment, to untap its true potential. Benefits of attending Influence the region’s policy asks, which the Eastern Powerhouse will take to Government Learn more on how your sector and organisation can be impacted from current policy thinking Gain a better understanding of business opportunities that exist Engage in high-level networking throughout the day

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Other Pages (53)

  • Eastern Powerhouse | Powered by ResPublica

    ​ How can the East attract investment and foster growth? Skills, Innovation, Infrastructure; the three pillars of growth for the East of England Read What we can do for the East ‘The East punches above its weight and is a net contributor to economy. We have all the hallmarks to deliver the most innovative jobs and career aspirations in the country. The fastest ability to decarbonise thanks to our leading green technologies throughout the area and cutting-edge science and medical facilities thanks to the expertise in our area. Now is the time to launch the Eastern Powerhouse, to ensure as the government levels up across the country, the East is front and centre of their minds’ Duncan Baker MP, North Norfolk Unlocking the Region’s Potential The Eastern Powerhouse is a dynamic, business-led, independent organisation that aims to create a strategic argument for investment in the East of England. We will promote the East as a world leader of innovation in green energy, technology and life science. We will support sustainable business growth that leads to better opportunities for people across the East. The East has long been the forgotten corner of the United Kingdom, but we will speak for the whole of the region, calling for investment into health, education and infrastructure and showing government that funding here will gain significant return, not achievable elsewhere. Our businesses are already world leaders, and the East of England is now ready to unlock the potential it has shown over the last 40 years. Latest News & Articles 27 minutes ago Railway Investment in the East 1 hour ago How can the East attract investment and foster growth? View All

  • News | Eastern Powerhouse | Powered by ResPublica

    News HOME > NEWS For all media enquiries please contact Mike Mavrommatis, Head of External Affairs: mike@easternpowerhouse.uk James Palmer 27 minutes ago Railway Investment in the East The economy in the East is considerably hampered by the quality of its rail network. ResPublica 1 hour ago How can the East attract investment and foster growth? Skills, Innovation, Infrastructure; the three pillars of growth for the East of England 1 2 3 4 5

  • Advisory Board | Eastern Powerhouse | Powered by ResPublicarn Powerhouse

    Advisory Board HOME > ADVISORY BOARD Welcome from the Chair ​ ​ The Eastern Powerhouse is a dynamic, business-led, independent organisation that aims to create a strategic argument for investment in the East of England. We will promote the East as a world leader of innovation in green energy, technology and life science. We will support sustainable business growth that leads to better opportunities for people across the East. ​ The East has long been the forgotten corner of the United Kingdom, but we will speak for the whole of the region, calling for investment into health, education and infrastructure and showing government that funding here will gain significant return, not achievable elsewhere. Our businesses are already world leaders, and the East of England is now ready to unlock the potential it has shown over the last 40 years. James Palmer Chair Eastern Powerhouse Read Bio Cllr. Colin Noble Member Councillor, West Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council Read Bio Drew Ritchie Member CEO, Upp Read Bio Matt Windle Member Group VP & Managing Director, Lotus Cars Read Bio Prof. Mario Caccamo Member CEO, NIAB Read Bio Sean Milbank Member Founder and Chairman, Milbank Group Read Bio William Rooke Member Partner - Head of Eastern Commercial, Carter Jonas Read Bio Candy Richards Member Development Manager - East Anglia, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Read Bio David Ruddy Member Executive Director - Strategic Growth and Partnerships, West Suffolk College Read Bio Martyn Fordham Member Managing Director, Asynt Ltd. Read Bio Prashant Shah Member CEO, o2h co-work labs, co-founder o2h group Read Bio Roz Bird Member CEO, Norwich Research Park Read Bio Simon Darby Member Director – Head of Public Affairs, PLMR Read Bio

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