Last few days to snap up Great Northern Conference early bird offer

George Osbourne and Andy Burnham head a panel of experts in Leeds to discuss the region's future.

The event will see speakers including Nancy Rothwell, Andy Burnham and Maier Jeurgen tackle topics such as how to plug the education attainment gap between the north and the rest of the UK, skills shortages, workplace productivity, connectivity and health

A ‘Who’s Who’ of leading figures from politics, business and academia are set to explore how best to drive forward the Northern Powerhouse.

The Great Northern Conference 2019 will bring together a range of leading figures, shining a spotlight on how to close the economic divide between the north and the rest of the UK.

Covering areas such as skills, education, innovation and connectivity, the all-day event will see well-known figures from across the political and business spectrum focus on how best to drive forward the area’s economic prospects.

The event will be chaired by one of the architects of the Northern Powerhouse vision, former Chancellor, the Rt Hon. George Osborne. Confirmed speakers include Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry, and Transport for the North Chief Executive Barry White.

Tickets for the highly-anticipated conference, to be held on Tuesday, February 26 at the Royal Armouries in Leeds, are expected to be in high demand – particularly as it will be a unique chance to debate the region’s prospects in a post-Brexit environment, and to share thoughts on how best to achieve targets for growth and innovation.

Special ‘early bird’ discount tickets – priced at £165+ VAT – are still available – but offer is only available until Friday, January 18.

The event will see speakers tackle topics such as how to plug the education attainment gap between the north and the rest of the UK, skills shortages, workplace productivity, connectivity and health.

They will include Peter Dowd, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, LNER managing director David Horne, Siemens CEO Juergen Mailer, Sir Peter Hendy from Network Rail and CYBG chief executive David Duffy.

The conference, to be hosted by respected broadcaster and journalist Ranvir Singh, will also include expert voices from academia, University of Manchester vice chancellor Dame Nancy Rothwell and Elaine Bowker, chief executive Liverpool City College.

NorthInvest director Helen Oldham will also be there along with economist and former government minister, Rt. Hon. Lord O’Neill, who was also instrumental in the Northern Powerhouse concept.

It’s expected that more leading figures from local and national business and politics – including a senior cabinet minister – will be announced soon.

The conference is particularly timely: recent data revealed that despite a determined drive to narrow the North-South economic divide, productivity in areas such as Leeds, York, Humber and Greater Manchester continues to drift behind the national average.

Meanwhile, debate continues over the idea of a devolved North of England government department with its own ‘secretary of state’ and tax-raising status.

Launching the conference, Mr Berry said the event would examine the “big question of how to drive Northern productivity”.

He added: “Many areas have been increasing productivity, but as we improve transport connectivity across the Pennines and invest through the Industrial Strategy, this progress must be accelerated.

“This is not just about a greater and ambitious North, but building a greater country.”

The Great Northern Conference 2019 is sponsored by CYBG, LNER, the Northern Powerhouse Partnership and The Yorkshire Post’s parent company JPIMedia.

For full details of speakers and agenda, and to book early bird discount tickets, visit