True North

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Aerospace can help the North’s drive for purpose-led growth

Rob Biddlecombe, Partner at leading independent law firm and B Corp Brabners, explores how the aerospace industry can help to drive regional prosperity.

More than 100 leaders from across the North convened at a series of discussions this Summer in Lancashire, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield – to consider the big questions around how we can play our part in unlocking the potential of the region’s economy and collectively drive progress and prosperity.


The discussions marked the start of True North. A network of purpose-led organisations from across the region, including strategically important sectors such as aerospace.


Nurturing people & skills, innovation & change and sustainable growth were standout priorities identified by these organisations, as key to unlocking the true potential of the North.


It highlights a clear desire to go further than the concept of the Northern Powerhouse – by developing meaningful partnerships and a culture of collaboration to better understand where the greatest opportunities lie, particularly in our strategic sectors.


We gathered these insights and collated them in our inaugural True North report which includes contributions from fellow NWAA member, the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC),


We have summarised some of the key takeaways from the report for the aerospace industry in this article.


Nurturing innovation and skills


The North is already a clear hot bed for innovation in the aerospace industry.


The True North report captures some examples of innovation and outlines the focus areas for facilitating change, which could help take the region to the next level.


For example, we need to hold on to our entrepreneurial talent.


While the North boasts world-class academic institutions and groundbreaking research assets, there’s no reason why in the future, our universities cannot spin out R&D success stories at the rate of MIT or Stanford. Achieving this will only be possible, however, if we can resist ‘brain drain’ and retain the talent within our universities.


The aerospace sector, like manufacturing and engineering, has also long suffered a perennial skills shortage that has dragged on growth. And the acceleration of AI and automation means the skills firms need are constantly changing.


True North found that organisations should consider more flexible routes into work for potential talent, which focus on soft skills and potential over polished CVs, to buoy the skills pipeline.


Utilising alternative routes to employment outside of universities was also a top priority, which we know is embraced well already by the aerospace manufacturing and engineering sector.


For example, the AMRC, which works with industry giants including Airbus, Boeing and Rolls Royce, has trained more than 1,700 apprentices since it was founded in 2001.


The AMRC is one of the key success stories we focus on in the True North report, setting the right example for other sectors to follow in nurturing and enabling innovation and skills.


Enabling sustainable growth


While climate change may be a global issue, guests in our True North discussion series identified key considerations for businesses in the region to prepare for net zero.


Chiefly, businesses hold the power to lead by example, rather than waiting for directives from the top, when it comes to decarbonisation.


The report also explores the need for businesses to unite to visualise the collective impact they can make in addressing the climate emergency, and how impactful investment can make a significant difference.


At Brabners we’ve grown our specialist services in environmental law to support sectors like aerospace as they increasingly shift their focus to achieving sustainable growth.


For example, we regularly advise on environmental and sustainability issues affecting supply chains, including producer responsibility, greenwashing, plastic packaging tax, and chemical regulations.


True North: an invitation

We are at a crossroads in the North’s economic future, and the region’s businesses, interest groups, social enterprises and academics have a pivotal role to play in deciding this. Strategically important sectors like aerospace need to be central to any joined-up action.

True North is an invitation – an open call to organisations across the region to seize this opportunity and be the drivers of change.

It is a network committed to supporting the future of the North, uniting the region’s most influential voices and purpose-driven organisations to co-create a path forward – unlocking the potential of the Northern economy.

Join the AMRC in becoming a member of the True North network.

For more information on the True North network, and our efforts to boost collaboration in the North, click here. Register here to join Brabners on the True North journey.

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