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In the north, not of the north

The autumn statement held good news for northern universities. But that won’t necessarily make the region an economic powerhouse, warns Gareth Potts.

In last week’s autumn statement, chancellor George Osborne announced that £235 million would go to creating a Sir Henry Royce Institute for advanced materials science in Manchester, with branches in Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield. The idea has been worked up since June by Mark Walport, the government’s chief scientific adviser, in liaison with northern universities and industry.

At the end of June, Osborne spoke of his desire to see the emergence of a Northern Powerhouse—to rebalance the economy, moving away from overreliance on financial services and concentration in London and the south-east—and praised the science of northern universities.

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