15 December 2014 14:57

Lord Heseltine has given the keynote speech at a business event that showcased Lancaster University’s role in developing regional economic growth across the UK.

The former Deputy Prime Minister told an audience of around 150 business leaders, representatives of national and local government and other stakeholders, gathered at Lancaster University Management School that ‘local growth hubs’ – one stop shops of business support that are being created across the country - are an important part of the decentralisation of powers to cities and regions.

Lord Heseltine also told the audience, at the event on December 8, how he had reached his conclusions in his Government-commissioned 2012 report ‘No Stone Unturned: in pursuit of growth’, which led to an allocation of funding to promote economic growth locally.

Lord Heseltine said: “The Local Enterprise Partnerships are designed to bring back some of the local entrepreneurial wealth creation.

“I would put my money on the people who live and breathe and are reliant on the success of the local economy. That is what this university is helping the government to do – and that is creating growth hubs.”

He also added that he believes devolution of more powers to be an “unstoppable process” following the recent Scottish independence referendum.

Lancaster University has led on the creation of 15 local growth hubs through its Wave 2 Growth Hub (W2GH) programme. The programme, which is funded through the Regional Growth Fund, has worked with more than 25,000 businesses and secured commitments to create 1,700 new jobs – that is more than 4.5 new jobs a day.

Prior to the W2GH programme there were only four growth hubs in the country. There are now 22.

The showcase event also included a question and answer event where business leaders grilled representatives of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, the Cabinet Office, the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, as well as business owners such as Gillian Hall of Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses.

The session saw a discussion on a range of business issues, such as skills shortages and problems of sufficient signposting to business support – an issue that is being addressed by growth hubs.

Professor Ellie Hamilton, W2GH Programme Director at Lancaster University, said: “It was great that there were so many people here at Lancaster from a wide range of stakeholders across the UK – including the growth hubs, national and local government, funding bodies, local enterprise partnerships, as well as business leaders and chambers of commerce.

“The question and answer session, and Lord Heseltine’s talk, were very well received and it was good to see a broad mix of opinions on important business, and economic growth issues, in the context of local growth hubs.”

The 15 Growth Hubs created this year by the W2GH programme are located at: the Black Country, Dorset, Brighton and Hove, Coventry and Warwickshire, Hull and the Humber, New Anglia, Milton Keynes, Oxford and Central Oxfordshire, Thames Valley Berkshire, Plymouth, Southampton and Portsmouth, Southend, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, Swindon and Wiltshire and Tees Valley.

More information about the W2GH programme is available by visiting http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/lums/wave2/ or by contacting Dr Amy Gibbons, W2GH Programme Manager at a.gibbons1@lancaster.ac.uk