Creating a Northern powerhouse, and celebrating Britain’s historical ingenuity

News editor

George Osborne is set to propose a trans-Pennine high speed rail link, while the EEF claims there is a need for British engineering heroes

One of England’s most scenic train journeys is set to go by in a high-speed blur, if the Chancellor’s plans come to fruition.

With the dust yet to settle on the controversy surrounding HS2, George Osborne will today float the idea extending high-speed rail beyond Birmingham to link the cities of Manchester and Leeds.

A high-speed link across the Pennines would, in Osborne’s opinion, would provide added connectivity in northern England that could help the region catch up with London and the Southeast.

In a speech set to be delivered in Manchester, the chancellor will say: ‘The cities of the north are individually strong, but collectively not strong enough. The whole is less than the sum of its parts. So the powerhouse of London dominates more and more. And that’s not healthy for our economy. It’s not good for our country.”

‘We need a northern powerhouse too. Not one city, but a collection of northern cities – sufficiently close to each other that combined they can take on the world. Able to provide jobs and opportunities and security to the many, many people who live here, and for whom this is all about.’

Its the start of the Manufacturing, Science and Technology Week at the International Festival for Business in Liverpool and EEF are marking the occasion with the launch of a report that highlights a lack of awareness about British engineering ingenuity.

’The EEF report shows that 54 per cent of those polled knew that the jet engine was invented in the UK

For example, their report shows that 54 per cent of those polled knew that the jet engine was invented in the UK. A more encouraging 69 per cent were aware of the steam engine’s British origins but only 31 per cent knew that the electric motor was invented by a Briton.

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EEF say that by ‘failing to celebrate the ‘brains’ behind Britain’s life-changing inventions, we are failing to provide our next generation with heroes – and leaving young people with little reason to want to follow in their footsteps.

Terry Scuoler, CEO of EEF, said: ‘Inventiveness and resourcefulness are written into our collective DNA. Unfortunately, our strengths appear to be flying under the radar and this could damage our ability to innovate in the future. If we want to Make it Britain then we have to wake up Britain to the innovation, creativity and design going on within our shores today. Our success didn’t end with the steam engine – it carries on from strength to strength with carbon fibre, bionic limbs and now the hypersonic engine too. We should be proud of what our inventiveness contributes to the world.

‘If Britain is to continue to innovate then we need to start shouting about our achievements. We have to ensure that everyone is aware that success lies before us and not just in the past. Above all, we must give greater recognition to our inventors and innovators, so as to encourage more young people to want to learn the right skills to follow in their footsteps.”

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EEF’s report is due to be launched at Liverpool’s Life Sciences University Technology College by business secretary Vince Cable.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is seeking nominations for its Innovation Awards, which acknowledge achievements across 16 categories that reflect ‘the breadth of science, engineering and technology.’

Now in its 10th year, the awards are free to enter and entries are welcomed from manufacturing companies of any size, whether independently owned or as part of a larger organisation. Nominees may choose to showcase innovation within products brought to market within the last five years, or processes within the plant where potential has been realised.

Some of our readers are convinced that this periodical’s editorial team has been taken over by the sort of Right-On Ronny that columnists like Rod Liddle refer to as the ‘metro-liberal elite’.

That doesn’t, however, stop Briefing flagging up an event that has very real relevance for the engineering sector and has nothing at all to do with box ticking or fulfilling quotas.

The event in question is a one-day conference titled Women in Engineering: The Challenge, which forms part of the inaugural National Women in Engineering Day organised by the Women’s Engineering Society.

The organisers say: ‘diverse teams of engineers are not only more productive but also more profitable…assuming we all agree that we need more women in engineering, the question to ask is: ‘What are we going to do about it?’