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The Future of Place: How and Where We Live

29th June


Today, half the world’s population lives in cities. By 2050 it will be 70% and the figures are higher in the UK. Cities consume energy, output most of the world's carbon emissions, and account for the consumption of the majority of the world's natural resources.

The concept of the smart city has come about as a way of ensuring urban areas are more efficient. So what IS a smart city or town? And aside from technology, what else can make the place where you live, a smart place. Is it community, music, arts?  This day-long session will answer all these questions and will finish with a description of what we think the Northern Powerhouse can and should be.


Claire Braithwaite, Tech Advisor to the Manchester Growth Company


What makes a city smart?

In this session we will discuss what being a smart city means. We will explore how sharing data about ourselves – what we do and how we use our environment – can make city life better.


Tom Saunders, Nesta. Author of ‘Rethinking Cities From The Ground Up’

Steve Turner, Associate Arup Digital

Eric Applewhite, GM Connect

Volker Hirsch, entrepreneur

Facilitator: Claire Braithwaite, Tech Advisor to the Manchester Growth Company

To attend this session register here.


Simon O'Brien's Bike Rant

Across the world there is net migration to cities, from London to Seoul; Istanbul to Santiago. This migration has occurred in such a subtle and rapid way, that we have not had a chance to adapt or to accommodate it.

Cities have become congested, polluted and depressed, burdening society with exponential growth, diabetes and heart disease due to obesity, which has grown 60% in the UK in the last 10 years as well as chronic mental health problems. But maybe the solution has been under our noses for 100 years, in the form of the simple bicycle. 

Join actor, presenter, producer and environmental campaigner, Simon O'Brien, as he tells us all to get on our bikes.

To attend this session register here. 


It’s Smart Citizens… Stupid.

Author, broadcaster and sustainability expert, Leo Johnson specialises in the megatrends shaping our future. What are the unexploded volcanoes that have the potential to transform the landscape? What are the emerging risks and opportunities for business and society?

Formerly with the World Bank in Washington, and the co-Founder of Sustainable Finance, now part of the PwC group, Leo is a Visiting Fellow at the Smith School of Enterprise & Environment at Oxford and host of the BBC World News programme “One Square Mile”.

He will come and argue that the future of cities is about smart citizens as much as smart technology.

To attend this session register here.


What else makes our cities and towns smart?

As we will have heard, improvements in urban living can’t all be about big data. This session asks what else we need in order to make the places we call home, work - art, music, community, and health.


David Parr, Chief Executive Halton Council

Yaw Owusu, Nothin’ But The Music

Sally Tallant, Liverpool Biennial


Laurie Peake, Director, Super Slow Way.

To attend this session register here. 

Closing  session


THIS is the Northern Powerhouse

After three weeks of debate on the future of business, we look back, with some of our session speakers, at what we’ve talked, argued and agreed about, and present our version of what the Northern Powerhouse looks like. We have three members of The Farm taking part to talk about the creative projects that have been happening in the North West for the last 25 years. Between them they have made records, BAFTA winning films, written books and set up an independent record label.


Clive Drinkwater, UKTI


Claire Braithwaite, Manchester Growth Company 

In order to attend a Blue Skies Session register on Eventbrite for the session you wish to attend. 

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