DCMS blog

#GreatNorthExpo2018: Sheffield

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Martin McKervey

Partner at international law firm Nabarro LLP, board member of the Sheffield City Region LEP and Transport for the North Partnership Board.

In 2018, there is only one place to be.  This celebration, over two months in the summer of 2018, will demonstrate why the North is a Powerhouse for the UK in the 21st Century.

The Great Exhibition of the North will transform how the North of England is seen by people living here and further afield. A focal point for all of us to re-discover the unique qualities that make Britain and in particular the North of England, such a compelling place, for business, for tourism, for cutting edge innovation and research, for entrepreneurial grit, for world class creativity and culture. Through a programme of diverse activities designed to attract a million plus people to enjoy, these attributes will come to the fore. It will leave an echo for years to come in the memories of our future investors, students and children. Sheffield City Region’s bid brims with ambition, and the know how to host and deliver for the North.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been impressed by how the University of Sheffield’s Festival of the Mind has attracted audiences from far and wide. Discussion, performance and light installations have drawn thousands to our city to participate, observe and enjoy their time here. Further back in the summer, our city buzzed to the tunes of Tramlines and 100,000 people dancing across our city centre.

I’ve seen our journey; we’re at the forefront of real purposeful change in our country. From May 2017 we will be one of 3 northern regions with a Mayor and deal that transfers powers and £1 billion of public funding. The change is manifest: our towns and city centres flourish, our Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District breaks new ground, and more people want to build their futures here.  Sheffield City Region is simply a great place to be.

Crucible Sheffield

The Crucible, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

Sheffield City Region would be a fitting host for this Great Exhibition for 4 reasons:

  1. Ambition – The Great Exhibition can create a powerful impact for our region, the North and the UK.  We see our ascendent North as a magnetic haven for culture, creativity, ambition, research and engagement.
  1. Partnership – Ambition feeds on collective spirit and focused intentions. Our bid buzzes with well-formed cultural, creative, business and civic partnerships that stretches across the North and beyond.
  1. Context– Sheffield City Region sits at the heart of an aspirational journey. A 2018 Great Exhibition will be part of a rich tapestry of a new blossoming confident North. From the civic devolution, to the growing international complexion in our business parks, airports and universities and the celebrations on global stages whether as Olympians, 2017 Hull City of Culture or Manchester Expo 2025.
  1. Delivery – Sheffield gets things done. Quietly, confidently the ambition becomes the plan which turns to reality.  We are home to major Universities, companies, brands, makers and innovators with global aspirations that demand nothing but the best. Our students, festival goers, academics and businesses repeatedly point to Sheffield as a place that delivers an unrivalled welcome.


The Great Exhibition of the North is a brilliant idea that has in just a few months given fresh cause for ambition, new valuable connections across our cities and town and stirring ideas for the future. I look forward to supporting this journey further to fruition.

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