THE North needs to talk as ‘one voice’ and keep nurturing skills to drive continued investment into scientific discovery and development.
Addressing a 150-strong audience at the inaugural ‘Business of Science’ Conference, Manchester City Council chief executive Howard Bernstein spoke about the importance of Northern cities collaborating in order to influence central Government policies.
“As a result of the Northern Powerhouse, we’ve seen more and more investment, particularly with transport, and we want that to apply to science too,” he said.
“There are huge opportunities for innovation and research – Manchester has world class universities at the heart of the city representing the biggest cluster of industrial collaborations with business than anywhere else in the UK,” Sir Howard added.
These projects, including the National Graphene Institute and the world’s largest telesope - the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) at Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics - were introduced in the headline introduction by Dame Nancy Rothwell, president and vice-chancellor at the University of Manchester.
The theme of the importance of connecting business with science ran throughout the day-long event held at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), a site with strong industrial roots and background in innovative discoveries.
Top of the agenda was also the importance of skills in driving the development and commercialisation of great science. In particular, attracting the younger generation into science-based industries was highlighted as crucial for the future of science during a panel discussion with Joanna Woolf, CEO of Cogent Skills, Karen Heaton, HR director at the University of Manchester and Dr John Weir, global technical director at PZ Cussons.
The event also welcomed a class of year ten students from Liverpool Life Sciences UTC who learnt about how science connects with industry. The group of 14 and 15-year-olds were led by science teacher Katherine Cho, who said: “Being at the conference has given our students a unique opportunity to engage with industry and learn the important link between science and business.”
Launched to coincide with Manchester’s European City of Science celebrations, another core theme at the event was innovation and expert speakers highlighted the challenges and tips for accelerating innovation in the sector.
Themed break out sessions also explored the subjects of life sciences, advanced materials and technology.
Headline speakers included Dr Neil Murray, CEO of Redx Pharma and Prof Juergen Maier, CEO of Siemens. Dr Maier spoke about the ‘fourth’ industrial revolution driven by the rise of digital and through new technology such as graphene.
“Applying technology like this could lead to a 50 per cent rise in productivity,” Prof Maier added.
Antimicrobial resistence also came up as a topic with the O’Neil report launched the same day highlighting the need for a global revolution in the use of antibiotics.
Closing the day, Sir Howard added his concern that 94 per cent of all public sector research in higher eduction activities is focused on London and the South East - less than 6 per cent is invested outside this area.
Echoing this, Ian Shott, executive chairman and managing director of Arcinova, said: “We need to work together and get Government a bit more connected and working with us and not against us. We also need to ensure we have strategies that create massive economic impact for the benefit of the UK, not just other countries in the world.”
Steve Bennett, managing director of Science North Limited, the founder and host of the event said: “For the inaugural event, it was a real success with a fantastic line up of top class speakers and some truly facinating insights into the relationship between science and business.
“The conference evidenced the strong drive for business to develop commercial solutions and opportunities from science and it was great to see so many people gather together to share this common ideal. I am delighted that there also appears to be a clear appetite for this conference and so through Science North Ltd, I look forward to arranging the second ‘Business of Science Conference’ in 2017.”
The headline sponsor of the event was BASF with other sponsors including Redx Pharma, Manchester Science Partnerships, Grant Thornton, Chemistry Growth Partnership, University of Bolton and Waters.
Supporters of the event included Active Profile, TransitionPlus, Wakelet, Cindr, Fatsoma, the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) and Wolfe.
For more information on the event, visit www.sciencenorth.co.uk