What is PERN?

PERN stands for Place-Based Economic Recovery Network. It is a multi-university network of experts in local and regional economic recovery, established to offer support to West Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (the MCA) / Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LCR LEP) (and other public bodies, such as local authorities) in the design, plan and implementation of COVID recovery efforts.

You can find PERN on Twitter as @PlaceBasedEcon


At a meeting on 3 February 2020 between Roger Marsh, Chair of Leeds City Region LEP, and vice chancellors in Leeds City Region, attendees discussed how universities could support the work of the LEP and the CA, against a background of prospective devolution, the emergent local industrial strategy and the government’s commitment to ‘level up’ the regions.

One of the outcomes of the discussion was a commitment to explore the opportunities around the universities in LCR providing foresight, analysis and intelligence on behalf of city region institutions in order to identify new ideas, issues and trends. This proposal builds on these ideas, and with a COVID lens brings the opportunity into sharper and more immediate focus.

The PERN proposal

Bringing together a network to offer the CA/LCR LEP ongoing access to academic expertise, and mutual access to national and international investment opportunities that require such partnership. This will work with and support existing analytical capability and capacity in the CA/LEP, not replace it.

Pilot approaches to ways and means of co-developing, exchanging and evaluating policy ideas are being developed, with a view to rolling out a longer-term network over time. In this way this network will complement the existing informal ‘Leeds Research Forum’ and other similar local arrangements in the West Yorkshire districts, which brings together local authority economic and policy officers, universities and health and care sectors.

PERN Webinar series on the West Yorkshire recovery strategy

The first pilot approach to test were a series of webinars. These events were held during the course of July 2020 and were initially coordinated by the University of Leeds, working together with Yorkshire Universities. They offered and opportunity for debate and conversation by experts and academics, adding value to the policy development of the recovery strategy.

Each topic was raised by the Economic Recovery Board, and included questions to structure to the debate and conversation. The webinars were based on the following principles:

  • To provide space for independent critical analysis and reflection on thematic areas considered by the West Yorkshire Economic Recovery Board as critical to the city-regions sustainable recovery.
  • Researchers and others wishing to participate in the webinars will be asked in advance to consider specific policy questions of interest to the Economic Recovery Board.
  • In the spirit of inclusivity, the webinars and/or future mechanisms will seek contributions from a wide a range of research and policy perspectives within and across Yorkshire.

The webinar topics were the following:

Webinar one: The future role of towns and cities
Webinar two: Clean and green recovery which also tackles the climate emergency
Webinar three: Start-up and entrepreneurial innovation led recovery
Webinar four: Resilient supply chains

Find out more about each of the webinars in more detail here.