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Honorary Graduand Citation: Michael Henson

By | News

15 July 2024

Vice-Chancellor, Michael Henson has dedicated over 25 years to political service and is a longstanding supporter and advocate of Teesside University. Currently Associate Director in the Central and Local Government Parliamentary Policy Team at the global professional services firm Turner & Townsend, Michael has substantial experience working in and around central and local government. Through his work in the regions and his role as a House of Lords staff member, he has particular expertise in fiscal devolution, regional partnerships, Metro Mayors and the House of Lords. 

Michael has focused much of his career on boosting the economy of local regions through international partnerships. He has played a pivotal role in brokering collaborations between central government, combined and local authorities, politicians, think tanks and local enterprise partnerships both in the UK and the Commonwealth, with a particular focus on South Africa and the Presidential Climate Commission. 

Alongside this, Michael is also a Commissioner for the UK2070 Commission, an independent inquiry into city and regional inequalities in the United Kingdom. Originally chaired by the late Lord Kerslake, the Commission continues to undertake important work driving regional development, creating impact here in our local region through the Teesside Taskforce, which Michael has chaired since its establishment in 2019. Through the Teesside Taskforce, the University contributes research and thought leadership to better evidence and understand the socioeconomic challenges facing our local communities, exploring the potential of freeports, steel, hydrogen and the wider net zero agenda to boost opportunities for people across the Tees Valley. 

In December 2022, Michael became an Honorary Professor at Teesside University in recognition of his ongoing work through the Teesside Taskforce, as well as his role as an advocate and ambassador supporting the University’s collaborations overseas. Michael has also supported the University in its establishment of the Public Policy Academy, bringing together civic and political leaders to give students an insight into the impact of public policy. A committed advocate to the University and the wider region, Michael continues to support our institution through advocacy, partnership building, and collaboration with central and local government. 

Vice-Chancellor; I present to you Michael Henson to receive the Degree of Doctor of Civil Law, honoris causa.

UK2070 Commission Taskforce Announces South Africa Taskforce in Mpumalanga

By | News

The UK2070 Commission Taskforce announces the establishment of Taskforce in South Africa: The UK2070 Mpumalanga Taskforce.

This taskforce is a key initiative within its comprehensive program aimed at fostering regional development and addressing socio-economic disparities. The UK2070 Taskforce Programme is chaired by Professor Michael Henson, and the UK2070 Mpumalanga Taskforce Vice Chair will be Dr. Vathi Papu-Zamxaka, the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovation & Engagement at Tshwane University of Technology.

Following the successful launch of the UK Teesside Taskforce in October 2020, the SA Mpumalanga Taskforce represents the second major endeavour under the UK2070 Commission’s Taskforce initiative.
UK2070 Mpumalanga Taskforce will collaborate closely with Tshwane University of Technology, Presidential Climate Commission, local businesses and enterprise partnerships and the local community to develop and implement strategies that align with the UK2070 Commission’s 10-point plan objectives.
The UK2070 Mpumalanga Taskforce will begin its operations programme from 1st July 2024, focusing on identifying key areas for development and engaging with the Presidential Climate Commission to ensure the success of its initiatives.

Professor Michael Henson, Chair of the UK2070 Commission Taskforce Programme, said:
“ The UK2070 Taskforce programme are delighted to welcome the South Africa Mpumalanga Taskforce into the vibrant and dynamic fold of the Taskforce programme. This integration marks a significant milestone in our collective journey towards addressing regional inequalities and fostering sustainable development. The combined expertise and unwavering commitment of our partners across the UK and South Africa will undoubtedly propel us towards a more equitable and prosperous future. Together, we are stronger, and together, we will help drive transformative change, ensuring that regions can harness its unique strengths and opportunities to thrive.”


Baroness Wilcox of Newport Vice chair UK2070 Taskforce Programme commented,
“I am deeply committed to advancing initiatives that bridge the economic and social divides between our regions. Our work is focused on creating inclusive growth and resilient communities, Today’s news is most welcome, and my assured further commitment to supporting the UK2070 Taskforce programme and developing further, with Professor Henson, a UK2070 Cardiff Taskforce later this year, working alongside both Teesside and Mpumalanga”.


Dr. Vathi Papu-Zamxaka, the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Engagement at Tshwane University of Technology and Vice Chair of the Mpumalanga Taskforce, added: “This partnership is a testament to the power of collaboration between academia, industry, and the community. We are committed to driving impactful renewable energy research and innovation that will benefit the Mpumalanga region and beyond. The latter will assist in curbing global climate change challenges”.


Presidential Climate Commission, commented:
The establishment of the Mpumalanga Taskforce enriches existing efforts to build local science and technology capacity to support a just transition. Valuable partnerships with universities such as Teesside, which has established a net-zero technology centre, will precipitate knowledge and innovations give rise to creative solutions to a low-carbon climate-resilient economy and society.


Professor Steve Cummings, Vice Chair of the UK2070 Teesside Taskforce, said:
“We welcome this announcement. By leveraging our expertise and resources, we aim to drive impactful change, sharing innovative solutions and best practices to tackle climate change and foster sustainable development both in the UK and South Africa. UK2070 Teesside Taskforce, based at Teesside University, reaffirms its commitment to international climate action following a recent visit from the South African Presidential Climate Commission.”


For more information please contact : UK2070 Taskforce Secretariat UK2070commissiom@turntown.com

Minister Visit UK2070 Commission and Teesside University (Trade Mission 6)

By | News

South Africa Minister and Department for Science and Innovation Delegation visiting the Net Zero Industry Innovation Centre, Teesside Hosted by UK2070 Commission

Led by South African Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande, the delegation visited the Tees Valley to learn how the University’s Net Zero Industry Innovation Centre (NZIIC) is helping to support the region’s ambition of becoming the first and largest decarbonised industrial cluster by 2040.

The £13.1m facility, which opened for business earlier this year, is a national centre of excellence for net zero technologies and is already helping position the Tees Valley firmly at the heart of the UK’s green industrial revolution.

The visit was organised by the UK2070 Commission, an independent inquiry into city and regional inequalities in the UK and led by UK2070 Commissioner and Teesside Taskforce Chair, Professor Michael Henson.

Industry partners including representatives from global companies Turner & Townsend and bp joined the delegation. As part of the programme, the visitors were shown how the University is supporting the growth of innovative new businesses which are finding solutions to address the climate emergency and had the opportunity to talk with representatives from SeerBi,Stuff4Life and XHeat.

The NZIIC’s work to create a circular economy was demonstrated by its collaboration with Stuff4Life, a start-up business that is finding a use for end-of-life workwear which would otherwise have ended up in landfill.

Professor Stephen Cummings, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), said:
“We were delighted to welcome our guests from South Africa and to showcase how Teesside University is fulfilling its role as an anchor institution for the Tees Valley by driving forward innovation and investment in green technologies.  Since opening this year, the NZIIC has had a demonstrable impact on green innovation in the region. We were very pleased to show how industry and academic collaboration is reaping dividends and helping position this region as a hub for green and sustainable growth.”

Gari Harris, Director of the NZIIC

“A key part of our mission is to support the just transition to a net zero economy and we look forward to sharing knowledge and cooperating further to support our communities to achieve this goal.”

Gari Harris, Director of the NZIIC, added: “Since opening this year, the NZIIC has had a demonstrable impact on green innovation in the region.

“We were very pleased to show how industry and academic collaboration is reaping dividends and helping position this region as a hub for green and sustainable growth.”

Through the UK20270 Teesside Taskforce, Teesside University has already established strong links and hosted previous visits with South African officials and has signed a collaboration agreement with South Africa’s Stellenbosch and Pretoria Universities deepening UK-South African academic collaboration on hydrogen.

Professor Michael Henson, UK2070 Commissioner, said:
“Over the last year I have had the pleasure of leading the UK2070 Commission’s South Africa/UK partnership programme championing the role of the Tees Valley and Teesside University in green industries. The programme has included several missions to the UK and a visit to South Africa with Teesside University colleagues.

“As Commissioner, I was delighted to welcome the South African Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande and his team back to Teesside for a second visit. We look forward to building on this latest visit and identifying further areas for collaboration.”

Website version here

See previous press release – Trade Mission 5-Presidential Climate Commission:

Building on international collaboration between South Africa and Teesside University
Dr Crispian Olver Executive Director of the Presidential Climate Commission established by the President of the Republic of South Africa

Website version here

It’s not just supply and demand: Rethinking England’s housing crisis, the scope and need for local solutions

By | News

The UK2070 Commission today publishes a report titled “Rethinking the Housing Crisis: the Challenges and Opportunities in England’s combined authority areas”, written by Dr Leonard Gibbs, Dr Wei Zheng and Professor Cecilia Wong from the University of Manchester.  

The report reveals the key changes in housing tenure in England, showing the high rates of growth in outright ownership and private renting and the related issues around housing affordability for new entrants and renters. Using geo-mapping, the report highlights the different housing markets within England, showing the places where the market is overheated and those where prices are declining or failing to keep up with inflation. The report shows the clear divides in England’s housing market and the impacts and influences on inward migration. The report shows the complexity of factors influencing housing affordability, demonstrating the need for regional and local solutions, and makes the continuing case for levelling up in the North of England.

A Paper on the issue of Mass Transit in the future is published

By | News, Think Piece

The UK2070 Commission today publishes a Paper on the issue of Mass Transit in the future, written by Dr Peter Ewen. Mass Transit systems are fundamental to the Gross Value Added of Major Cities but are unaffordable to most and take too long to implement. The situation is set to worsen as by 2050 the number of people living in cities will grow by 60%.

Dr Ewen proposes that tinkering with current Mass Transit solutions will not meet the needs of today, let alone the future, and that a paradigm shift in how we provide Mass Transit solutions is required. Autonomous Network Transit systems provide a credible and affordable solution. They are cleaner, infinitely quicker to build and provide a much better service to the customer than traditional Mass Transit systems. Dr Ewen spent many years in aviation before moving into Mass Transit rail where he soon realised that the time has come to think differently and embrace the opportunities presented by technology for the people of our cities.

UK2070 Commission Go Local Report

By | News

Cecilia Wong and Helen Zheng, both from the University of Manchester, are authors of the ‘UK2070 Commission Go Local’ report`

Unlike most macro-economic and regional analysis, this report unravels the spatial patterns behind the so-called ‘productivity puzzle’ of the UK. Through GIS mapping analysis, the report aims to provide a better understanding of the emerging spatial landscape of productivity and employment change and to examine whether the spatial patterns are related to different labour market conditions and infrastructure provisions across England. When analysing the more recent trend between 2015 and 2019, five combined authority areas (West Yorkshire, North of Tyne, Greater Manchester, North East, and West Midlands) enjoyed growth in GVA per hour worked for over 4.4% in real terms, which outperformed Greater London’s 3.19% increase. The analysis in the report lays bare the spatial landscape of different socio-economic conditions and challenges faced by different local and combined authorities, as well as highlighting opportunities for more creative spatial thinking to exploit synergies across different places. The report aims to inform the ‘Go Local’ agenda of the UK2070 Commission to achieve its 10-Point Action Plan.

UK2070 Commission Integrated Rail Plan Inquiry – Call for Evidence

By | News

The UK2070 Commission has called for a UK-wide Connectivity Strategy would make the UK one of the best-connected countries in the developed world. This is key to levelling up agenda. The key components of this include a network of connected cities; sustainable mass transit systems within all major urban areas; enhanced connectivity beyond to the marginalised communities.  This requires an integrated rail plan for the UK.  In order to help its inquiry into the continuing barriers to delivering this agenda it is making a call for evidence from all interested parties.

Any person or organisation interested in submitting evidence to the Uk2070 Commission should do so by 30th June 2022 to the following email address UK2070Commisison@turntown.com

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact UK2070Commisison@turntown.com

End of Year Message from UK2070 Commission Chair, Lord Kerslake

By | News

First of all, I want to thank everybody who has helped the UK2070 Commission over the last year.

The health and economic consequences of COVID-19 have understandably dominated most of the year. We were fortunate to launch our Third and what we thought would be our Final Report at the end of February, before the pandemic took hold.

Despite the dominance of COVID-19, we have been able to make good progress on work to highlight the spatial inequalities of the UK and measures needed to address them. COVID-19 has made ‘levelling up’ harder but also more urgent.

The continued engagement of the commissioners, our partner universities and our other supporters has meant that we have been able to keep the debate going.

As a result, the UK2070 Commission has been able to sustain its pressure for change through a wide range of activities including:

  • In October undertaking a major assessment of the impact of COVID-19, by publishing Go Big – Go Local: The UK2070 Report on a New Deal for Levelling Up the United Kingdom, which confirmed that coronavirus had exacerbated regional inequality divides, and called for the implementation of our 10 Point Action Plan, including a step change in the devolution of powers and funding;
  • Engaging with government and parliamentary committees on the need to re-shape industrial strategy, infrastructure priorities and the planning system to deliver the levelling up agenda; and
  • Supporting others who are equally committed to building a better future, ranging from the Commission on the College of the Future re-shaping skills and the FE agenda, to endorsing the work of leading universities in their research agenda and civic engagement.

We are committed to sustaining our efforts in 2021. Amongst other things this will include:

  • Promoting a series of local Task Forces to make local the 10-Point Action Plan. We have already started on Teesside and are in advanced discussions with other strategic alliances;
  • Contributing to the United Nations Climate Change (COP26) Conference discussions to ensure that a ‘spatially just’ transition to zero-carbon is at the top of the agenda; and
  • Continuing to work with government, to ensure their commitment to a green recovery plan and locally-led action is not undermined by short-term, underfunded and micro-managed programmes.

So please watch this space, both here on our website and on our Twitter feed; and furthermore, please continue to contribute by contacting us at uk2070commission@turntown.com.

Thank you,

Lord Kerslake
Chair, UK2070 Commission

Northern Powerhouse Partnership and UK2070 Commission call for greater role for Mayors to lead Fourth Industrial Revolution

By | News
  • Lord Kerslake calls for ‘levelling up’ role to be given to a Cabinet Minister
  • Fourth Industrial Revolution in the North of England could unlock thousands of skilled, future-ready jobs in green sectors and industries key to increasing productivity

The Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) and the UK2070 Commission are together calling for Metro Mayors to be given a greater say in leading the UK’s recovery from COVID-19, including of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the North of England.

Ahead of the 2020 Spending Review on Wednesday 25th November, NPP director Henri Murison and Chair of the UK2070 Commission The Right Honourable The Lord Kerslake, will each call for clarity on the plan for levelling up, alongside targeted investment in industries that increase productivity.

They will tell the House of Commons’ Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee on Tuesday 24 November (10.30am start) that the UK’s recovery must focus on devolving more powers to locally-elected leaders and allowing them to upskill the workforce in key industries of the future, including advanced manufacturing, digital and green energies.

These sectors could hold the key to solving the UK’s productivity crisis that lies at the root of both the North-South divide, and wider regional inequalities across England.

While the Prime Minster has maintained that levelling up remains a top priority, Lord Kerslake will say that there is still no sign of a plan and that the government must appoint a dedicated Cabinet member and committee to ensure they deliver on election promises.

In October, the UK2070 Commission found that COVID-19 has exacerbated the UK’s economic dependency on London and the wider South East of England, calling for a £375bn 25-year New Deal strategy for a ‘just recovery’ to offset:

  • The £4bn a year gap in research and development investment, through creating at least four global centres of science and technology outside the UK’s so called ‘Golden Triangle’.
  • The £20bn per year cost of poor local connectivity, through major investment in transit systems in all major towns – and about 1,000 miles of new, upgraded and electrified main railway lines and services to more remote communities.

Last month, the UK2070 Commission set up the UK2070 Teesside Taskforce to support the creation of better-quality, skilled job opportunities in the North East of England, through investment in freeports, steel, hydrogen and the wider net-zero agenda.

Mr Murison will be speaking at The University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), a world-leading research and innovation institution with more than 120 industrial partners.

The AMRC is part of The University of Sheffield and it is also one of the national High Value Manufacturing Catapult centres – a world-leading hub for manufacturing companies, academia and government to drive improvements across multiple industries; whether aerospace, energy, construction or rail.

The AMRC Training Centre in Rotherham provides apprenticeship training to students aged 16 and over through partnerships with both SMEs and global brands, including Boeing, Rolls-Royce and McLaren.

Mr Murison will highlight the role that companies like Sheffield Forgemasters can play in developing world-leading Small Modular Reactor technologies (SMR), with the potential to form a vital role in decarbonising the UK’s energy strategy and closing the power deficit.

In its recent Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, the UK Government announced £215 million funding for the UK SMR Consortium led by Rolls-Royce. The consortium comprises nine companies and research organisations, including the Nuclear AMRC – the AMRC’s sister centre, also part of the University of Sheffield – and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult.

The consortium aims to have its first power station in operation in the early 2030s, with the development programme creating around 6,000 jobs by 2025. By value up to 80 per cent of the power station’s components will be made in factories in the North of England and the Midlands.

Sheffield Forgemasters received funding from the government in 2019 to build a large-scale Bost five-axis Vertical Turning Lathe and a Bost RAM Boring Machine, the first of their kind in the UK, which combined with the company’s depth of manufacturing skill for civil nuclear projects, delivers a significant technological advantage in this market.

SMRs are potentially faster to manufacture, safer and easier to decommission than large nuclear power plants and, by keeping the supply chain in the UK, will create more skilled green jobs in the economic recovery.

Lord Kerslake said: “While we’ve seen plenty of warm words about levelling up, we still need a plan for devolution of further fiscal powers.”

“Central and regional government both have a part to play in delivering this agenda. We need a dedicated cabinet member and committee, working alongside Metro Mayors across the Western Gateway, the Midlands Engine and the Northern Powerhouse, to build a comprehensive plan for economic rebalancing.”

“The UK is one of the most centralised, imbalanced, developed countries in the world and this has a serious detrimental impact on our ability to drive economic growth. Recovery post COVID-19 will only take place once we realise that.”

Henri Murison said: “Unlocking the North of England’s true economic potential through accelerating decarbonisation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution is not only crucial to closing the North-South divide, it is essential to recovery across the whole of the UK.”

“The North’s vast economic assets are still hugely underutilised but through sustained investment in sectors such as off-shore wind, hydrogen and SMRs; alongside targeted, locally-led skills programmes; we can build back better in some of the areas worst-hit economically by COVID-19.”

“We need to invest in both infrastructure and people to deliver this vision, upskilling and reskilling the workforce in highly-productive industries and sustainable energies that drive economic growth across the whole of the country.”

UK2070 Commission Launches Teesside Taskforce

By | News

The UK2070 Commission – an independent inquiry into regional inequalities in the UK chaired by The Right Honourable The Lord Kerslake – today officially launched the UK2070 Teesside Taskforce.

The Taskforce will work in support of the UK2070 Commission’s long-standing aspirations for a major increase in the number and quality of job opportunities in the region, alongside enhancing the wellbeing of people who live in Teesside.

The Teesside Taskforce will look in particular at the potential of freeports, steel, hydrogen and the wider net zero agenda to boost opportunity for people from across the Tees Valley.

In order to help the Taskforce, the UK2070 Commission is making a Call for Evidence from all interested parties on four key issues:

  • The key issues facing Teesside, whether they be economic, social, environmental and political.
  • The main opportunities for the Teesside area.
  • The resource and institutional requirements needed to tackle the problems and release the opportunities.
  • Discovering what successful projects and initiatives have been developed in Teesside that might be replicated.

Submissions should be made in response to the Terms Of Reference and our Call For Evidence by Friday 4th December 2020, with the findings of the Taskforce being submitted by spring 2021 to the Tees Valley Combined Authority; to the Mayor of Tees Valley, Ben Houchen; and to the UK Government.

Evidence may be submitted by emailing uk2070commission@turntown.com.

The UK2070 Teesside Taskforce will be further supported by a Taskforce Steering Group comprised of local business and academic representatives, and representatives from both the Department for International Trade and the Tees Valley Combined Authority.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Lord Kerslake said:

“I am delighted to make this announcement today with Mayor Houchen, on the formation of the UK2070 Teesside Taskforce. This is the first of a series of UK2070 Taskforces that will focus on places. This Taskforce will look in particular at the potential of freeports, steel, hydrogen and the wider net zero agenda. The Commission welcomes the opportunity to understand and learn from the Teesside Taskforce programme.”

The Mayor of Tees Valley, Ben Houchen said:

“It is absolutely essential that we boost the Tees Valley’s economy, that’s why I have put freeports, green steel making and carbon capture technologies at the centre of my plan for jobs – a plan that is delivering good quality well paid jobs for people across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool right now.
I welcome the UK2070 Commission’s Teesside Taskforce and its’ focus on our region, and I look forward to telling them about my plans to create jobs. As we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever that we secure the investment that will create the jobs we all want to see come to our region, so that local people can have more money in their pockets for them and their families.”

Lord Kerslake further commented:

“The Taskforce is a logical development from our most recent report, Go Big Go Local, which looked at the ‘levelling up’ agenda in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will draw together proposals to help create sustained new investment and open up new market opportunities through both existing programmes and new initiatives and funding streams. The opportunity to apply the ideas of the UK2070 Commission in specific places is an exciting one. The Teesside Taskforce will be a pioneer of this new approach.”

Jacob Young MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hydrogen, said:

“As Chair of the APPG on Hydrogen and Member of Parliament for Redcar, I’m delighted to see the formation of the UK2070 Teesside Taskforce with a commitment to study hydrogen and the net zero agenda. The UK2070 Teesside Taskforce is being launched at a crucial time and demonstrates the anticipation from political leaders, policymakers, and local businesses to support net-zero targets. I look forward to working with the Taskforce to create jobs and grow the local economy in Teesside.”

Chris McDonald, Chief Executive Officer of the Materials Processing Institute, said:

“As an advocate for the Green Industrial Revolution, I welcome the news that the UK2070 Commission are creating a Teesside Taskforce to focus on areas such as green steelmaking and net zero carbon technologies. I am pleased to be joining the Taskforce and to contribute my personal expertise in support of developing these industries in Teesside and for the UK.”