Westminster Business Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.
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Developing the Oxford-MK-Cambridge Arc economy - implementing the economic vision, building on the region’s research base and, priorities in the wake of COVID-19

Morning, Tuesday, 22nd September 2020

Online Conference

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will be an opportunity for policymakers and stakeholders to examine the next steps in delivering the Economic Vision for the Oxford - MK - Cambridge Arc, and implementing and co-ordinating the region’s four Local Industrial Strategies.

There will be discussion on how to achieve the ambitions set out in the strategies around productivity, place-making, skills, connectivity and the environment - and what can learned from progress so far.

It follows Government’s commitment in the Budget earlier this year to develop a long term spatial planning framework to support planning decisions in the Arc region and the commitment to explore plans for Northstowe, a new town in Cambridgeshire.

We also expect a major focus for delegates on the day to be priorities for the Arc’s economic and social recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further areas for discussion include:

  • the four Local Industrial Strategies and a single economic vision for the Arc
  • innovation and maximising the Arc’s knowledge economy
  • the ‘Arc’ brand

The discussion in detail:

  • How to further support innovation and the ways in which the region’s universities and businesses can further contribute to the fight against the pandemic and increase collaboration
  • Promoting the Arc as a place to invest and the region’s likely impact on wider UK growth in economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The challenges for bringing together the distinct priorities of each constituent part of the Arc into a coherent strategy for the region as a whole - including the governance and joint working arrangements to deliver the plans and the recovery from COVID-19
  • Assessing the skills policy set out in the region’s industrial strategies that look to build a system that:
    • responds to local demand
    • supports businesses in the region
    • meets the aspirations of the economic vision for the Arc
  • How to maximise the benefits of the significant infrastructure developments planned for the region - including:
    • East-West Rail
    • the roll-out of both fibre broadband and 5G
    • potential road projects that could support the Arc as Highways England considers the next steps following the Government’s decision to pause work on the Oxford to Cambridge expressway
  • Further development of the Arc’s clusters - including its seven Enterprise Zones - and how to achieve the ambitions in the joint declaration to position the Arc and its research and development resources to provide a testbed for new technologies
  • The support available for SMEs in the supply chain to scale-up and increase exports amidst concern that some start-ups could be priced out of the region because of high rents and about lack of laboratory space
  • How the Government and local partners can work together to market the Arc globally, looking at:
    • broadening the established brand of the regions to attract businesses, investors, talent, and visitors
    • building on existing strengths of the region’s constituent areas
    • learning from the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine concepts

The agenda:

  • The economic vision for the Oxford-MK-Cambridge Arc and key priorities in the wake of COVID-19
  • Bringing the four LIS together and implementing the economic vision for the Arc - skills, infrastructure development, and business support across the Arc
  • Building on the region’s research base - priorities for investment in new technologies, industry-university collaboration, developing clusters, and the continuing contribution to tackling COVID-19
  • What next for the region’s brand and attracting inward investment
  • Policy priorities for growing the Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge Arc economy and COVID-19 recovery

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

This conference looks no different. Places have been reserved by representatives from BEIS; MHCLG; the Department for Transport; Homes England; the Government Legal Department and the Department for International Trade.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Nigel Tipple

Chief Executive, OxLEP and Productivity Group Member, Ox-Cambridge Arc

Bridget Rosewell

Commissioner, National Infrastructure Commission


Daniel Zeichner MP

Member of Parliament for Cambridge


James Palmer

Mayor, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority

Councillor Barry Wood

Chair, Arc Leaders Group and Leader, Cherwell District Council

Will Gallagher

Strategy Director, East West Railway Company

Matt Allen

Business Development and Marketing Director, Bidwells

Brian Eversham

Chief Executive, Wildlife Trust BCNP and Visiting Professor, Cranfield University

Alistair Lomax

Director, University of Buckingham and Director, Arc Universities Group

Ian Sandison

Chief Executive, Cambridge BID

Professor Jim Hall

Professor of Climate and Environmental Risks and Director, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

Ian Pryce

Chief Executive, Bedford College

Tony Hart

Head of Smart Oxford, Oxford City Council