Meet the Great Exhibition of the North’s superconnector

Nadina Osmani, October 27, 2017 3 min read

This article was originally posted on the Tech North website.

Northern Voices participant Laura Partridge’s official title is ‘Innovation Champion’ in her new role at the Great Exhibition of the North.

If we’re not speaking in jargon, this means that she connects people in different groups or organisations, making great stuff happen.

Set to be the biggest event in England next year, the Great Exhibition of the North tells the dynamic story of the North; how its innovators, businesses, artists and designers shaped our present and are inspiring our future. Free to attend and family friendly, it will run from 22nd June 2018, to the 9th of September in Newcastle and Gateshead.

Showing off our strengths

“The Exhibition is about showing the North as an amazing place to study, live, work and invest. It’s about showing off all of our strengths across multiple sectors and inspiring the next generation.”

It’s a story that Laura knows very well from her own experience.

“I was born in London but grew up in Yorkshire and then moved to Manchester to study. I was attracted by the culture – the art, music and the general buzz of the city. I actually tried to leave a few times, but always found myself staying or coming back soon after.”

Laura Partridge at the Digital Jobs Action Summit

Laura’s now based in Newcastle and her work stretches across the region and its key innovation strengths.

“Digital cuts across so many sectors and it’s key to realising the future potential of the North. It’s only if you have that broad view of everything that’s going on that you can pair up things and see how they overlap.”

Laura comes from a background in higher education and most recently worked for the N8 Research Partnership consortium of research universities.

“Some of the work done in universities can seem quite specialist, but there is so much potential in disseminating that information to different audiences and figuring out the best way to make it add value to people’s daily lives. Research is far from something that just sits on a campus in a book, so how can we really make the best of its impact?”

The key word is collaboration

She cites devolution and regional development as two big factors that brought her from disseminating information at one institution, to working all over the North. For her, leveraging the potential of connected networks is vital.

“The key word is really collaboration,” she says.

A late returner to academic study, Laura undertook a Masters in communication design at Salford University’s base in MediaCity UK.

“The best thing about it was that I was right in there and I got to do lots of engagement with digital design and all the communities in Manchester at the time. I often worked in the Northern Quarter, saw the rich bed of opportunity there and wanted to fit that into a wider context.”

“Often the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. There’s lots of great things going on across the North and potential for lots more. It’s only when you bring all of these different things together into new groupings that you realise the true scale of that potential.”

Book Laura to speak at your event

As well as knowing everything there is to know about local startup scenes, Laura is an expert in academic and regional development, connecting universities with the local region, digital creativity and Northern Powerhouse policy. You can view her profile for more information, or book her to speak.

For more information about Great Exhibition of the North visit


Laura Partridge

Startup stories, Manchester, Newcastle, North East, North West