The Association for Project Management (APM) recently held their first Manchester based conference, and the Northern Powerhouse initiative by UK Government was their key theme. Claire Trinder and Lisa Booth from our Programme Management Office attended the event, and it got them thinking about where the Hartree Centre fits in.
“If the Northern Powerhouse were a country, it would be amongst the biggest economies in Europe. If we can make this region an economic powerhouse, the whole of the UK will benefit.”
Phillip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer
It sounds simple enough when you put it like that, but as we discovered at the APM conference, there’s a lot more to unlocking the benefits of the Northern Powerhouse than meets the eye.
The event, held in early December 2016, zeroed in on the developments in infrastructure, communication and technology projects that are being designed to re-balance the UK economy in line with the government’s Northern Powerhouse vision laid out in its strategy document. In summary, the Northern Powerhouse is a vision for a more joined up region in which northern towns and cities work collaboratively, sharing skills and resources to unlock the economic potential of the area.
The APM Conference placed a strong emphasis on the importance of organisations, particularly those from the public sector, providing an infrastructure for businesses of all shapes and sizes to build upon. This was suggested with a view to building an environment that encourages and fosters innovation across three key sectors: manufacturing, energy and health – with the integration of the digital technologies sector spanning across them all.
The day got us thinking about our own work at the Hartree Centre and the role we are playing in supporting the Northern Powerhouse strategy, both in terms of our technologies and capabilities as well as the way we manage and deliver our projects.
Over a quarter of the UK’s total manufacturing output comes from the North and innovation within manufacturing is going to be critical to the success of the next industrial revolution. This is why we are proud to be partners in LCR4.0, a new business support programme that will help manufacturing SMEs in Liverpool City Region to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by digital technologies. This project really emphasises the importance of collaboration and synergising regions to encourage technological innovation.
Another prime capability for the North that is on the Northern Powerhouse agenda is health. This encouraged us to think about the ways in which the Hartree Centre are working to support innovation in healthcare. In particular, as part of our Alder Hey cognitive hospital project, we are working in collaboration with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital to develop a technology using the IBM Watson cognitive computing system to help revolutionise personalised medicine, putting patients at the centre of their care. This work links in with the Northern Powerhouse strategy by sharing capabilities, helping organisations to process large amounts of data, extracting the most relevant parts and transforming the information to create useful and relevant personal insights.
As the capability, complexity and sheer number of devices increases, supporting growth in digital technologies, there are growing demands on energy. At the Hartree Centre, we are proud to be at the forefront of energy efficient computing research and are exploring power use in computing, devising ways to achieve step changes in energy efficiency without compromising on performance. This work will hopefully feed in to the Northern Powerhouse by supporting the digital revolution, both environmentally and financially, enabling us to do more.
The APM conference not only prompted us to think about how our work might support the Northern Powerhouse strategy, but also the diverse programme of speakers afforded us the opportunity to understand how other organisations are working towards the same agenda.
“The event provided a great insight into how the profession of project management is changing and how having skilled project professionals is critical for the success of any large project or programme. It is clear that the Hartree Centre will have an important role to play in in supporting the Northern Powerhouse strategy and central to that will be our skills not only in the technologies but also in project management.”
Claire Trinder, Head of Programme Management
“I was really pleased to listen to the talks and realise how well the work that we are doing at Hartree is aligned with the Northern Powerhouse strategy. Being a relatively new Programme Management Office, I think we also heard some valuable lessons learnt and took away ideas for how to improve upon our own project delivery. Hopefully the Hartree Centre can be part of the programme at next year’s conference!”
Lisa Booth, Partner Services Officer