EvoNorth 2020: Connecting the North

Last week saw the highly-anticipated EvoNorth event take place in Manchester.

Amid Coronavirus fears, disruption and cancelled events, hundreds of public and private sector leaders vowed to keep their hands clean and their minds open for two days of immersive collaboration.

With the impressive backdrop of Emirates Old Trafford Lancashire County Cricket Club, delegates and panellists alike engaged with our esteemed selection of exhibitors, making new contacts and finding out exactly how they can work together moving forward.

The event’s strapline was ‘Connecting the North’ and it certainly rang true at EvoNorth as Councillors debated with Scientists who debated with Commercial Directors. Panel discussions such as Digital Health Innovation, which saw Health Innovation Manchester, join the NHS Innovation Agency and the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership took a 30-minute deep dive into improving and sustaining public health in a digital age.

A topic gaining momentum with every passing day is social value and as we struggle through the challenges of a housing crisis, The People’s Powerhouse, Rotherham Borough Council and the Social Value Portal gave us three immensely insightful women to guide us through the Housing and Social Value panel discussion.

The Open University brought us a leader’s debate on Education, Skills and Employment which saw six leaders from the Department for Education to Durham University and everything in between, to help realise the North’s ambition and narrow the productivity gap.

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The hugely anticipated Transport and Connectivity Leaders Debate came on day two and saw Tim Wood and Peter Molyneux from Transport from the North join Monika Buscher from Lancaster University to discuss the topic of a sustainable and green transport network, which echoed the sentiment of the many private exhibitors that attended.

BMW, Tesla, MG, Renault and JCB were just some of the industry giants who brought with them a range of electric vehicles for delegates to learn about.

The final leader’s debate and to many, the most pressing – Energy, Infrastructure and Environment gave us passion and positivity in the face of the terrifying task of tackling climate change. We had, in our opinion, the best people for the job to lead this panel discussion, from Leeds City Council, to the Energy Systems Catapult, North West Hydrogen Alliance and Community Energy England.

From our first speaker, Nick Forbes CBE, Leader of Newcastle City Council and Senior Vice-Chair of the Local Government Association to our last speaker, Sarah Davies, Northern Powerhouse Strategic Lead at the Environment Agency, the EvoNorth audience was captivated as leaders took to the stage to explore solutions and innovations for the country’s challenges.

We hope that the relationships made and discussions had at the event continue long into the future, but we could not have delivered the diversity of thought and innovation that we did without our strategic partners, Neste and The Welsh Government who delivered thought-provoking speeches and our sponsors, Schneider Electric, Skanska, Knowledge Transfer Network, who took to the stage to deliver their own masterclasses and present us with world-leading concepts and ideas that have the potential to shape not only the North of England but much further afield.


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