CITIE: The Northern Powerhouse Analysis

This report assesses the entrepreneurial ecosystem in six city and combined authority regions in the North of England.

This report, which is written by Nesta, Accenture, and Future Cities Catapult, focuses on the performance, potential for innovation, and entrepreneurship in the context of devolution in the Northern Powerhouse region.

It assesses the entrepreneurial ecosystem in six city and combined authority regions in the North of England: Greater Manchester Combined Authority Region, Hull City Region, Liverpool Combined Authority Region, North East Combined Authority Region (incorporating Newcastle and Sunderland), Sheffield City Region Combined Authority and West Yorkshire Combined Authority (incorporating Leeds and Bradford).

Key findings

The characteristics driving higher performance across city regions are:

  1. Having a clear mandate to lead on innovation
    The critical mass of combined authorities is generating increased leadership capacity and acumen towards innovation and entrepreneurship. City regions are harnessing their unique specialisms and prioritising new ways of doing things, crafting their own destinies.
  2. Demonstrating a willingness to collaborate
    The solutions to city challenges, both internal and external don’t reside solely in city hall. The leading city regions engage their ecosystem as a valuable resource for ideas, working with entrepreneurs, universities, and their regional and global peers, to share, learn, and jointly develop solutions.
  3. Actively curating the marketplace
    Leading cities actively curate the marketplace and promote innovation growth by providing startups and innovators with the platform, workspace, data, and financial support to develop commercially valuable products and services.

Policy recommendations

  • Undertake collective analysis of emerging business models.
  • Conduct a regulatory review to harmonise across boundaries.
  • Increase international exposure of the Northern Powerhouse.
  • Expand international transport linkages to enable global business connections.
  • Design a Northern Powerhouse challenge prize series.
  • Strengthen links between the city and entrepreneurs.
  • Establish career pathways to encourage graduates to stay.
  • Equip young people with digital skills and cultivate a culture of entrepreneurialism.
  • Support venture capital trade missions to connect startups.
  • Establish city-wide Internet of Things platforms to stimulate digital infrastructure innovation.
  • Increase cycling with bike-sharing and citizen engagement.
  • Formalise CDO and/or CIO roles in combined authorities.
  • Develop digital strategies for city regions.
  • Use digital technologies to engage citizens in decision making and problem solving.
  • Establish offices of data analytics.
  • Make all city procurement contracts ‘open by default’.


David Altabev and Nevena Dragicevic


David Altabev

David Altabev

David Altabev

Future Prizes - Senior Programme Manager

David worked in the Government Innovation team, part of Nesta's Innovation Lab leading on the development of the CITIE (City Initiatives for Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship…

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