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Five people sitting behind a table, with the man on the front right addressing an off-picture audience

Durham University is playing a key role in driving prosperity in North East England, through a strategy tailored to the unique nature of our city, county and region.

That was the message that an influential audience including politicians, policy makers and journalists heard as we jointly hosted an event at the 2023 Conservative Party conference.

Durham at the party conferences

In the UK, each of the major political parties holds an annual conference to discuss policies.

This year, jointly with the think tank Onward, we’re hosting events at both the Conservative and Labour party conferences, as well as participating in the Liberal Democrat event.

Our event at the Conservative Party conference, being held in Manchester from Sunday 1 October to Wednesday 4 October, was titled ‘Zoning in on growth: driving prosperity through place-based strategies.

Our role in driving productivity and growth

Shaid Mahmood, our Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion), joined a panel also featuring George Freeman MP, UK Minister for Science and Technology; Oriel Petry, Senior Vice-President, Head of Public Affairs, Airbus; Rain Newton-Smith, Director General, Confederation of British Industry (CBI); and chaired by Adam Hawskbee, Deputy Director of Onward.

Shaid spoke about our role, as a leading global, research-intensive university, to work with business and local devolved arrangements to innovate, create, upskill and deliver critical sector needs, economic growth and improved productivity for the locality, region and nation.

Our contribution...

Among other projects, Shaid spoke about:

  • Our work with NETPark, a premier science park in County Durham, and home to Orbit university enterprise zone;
  • How we will lead a new £21.3 million national research partnership focused on decarbonising the UK maritime sector;
  • The Durham Energy Institute (DEI) and in particular our work with energy firm Orsted;
  • Our work with Teesside University to accelerate decarbonisation and hydrogen use in the Tees Valley, North East England; and
  • How we’re working with local further education colleges, including on apprenticeships, mentoring and coaching.

On Tuesday 10 October, we’ll be at the Labour Party conference, exploring similar issues with a panel including Chi Onwurah, Labour's Shadow Minister for Science, Research and Innovation.

Find out more