Reimagining cities: urban regeneration and social enterprise

York Festival of Ideas is joining forces with Aviva, the N8 Research Partnership of northern universities and the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) for an exciting closing day of the festival with a major focus on Reimagining Cities: Regeneration and social enterprise. 

The day will deliver two major panels exploring inspiring examples of how cities across Europe are reimagining their approaches to urban regeneration that also foster the development of strong communities and net zero. 

Jennifer Williams, Northern Correspondent of the Financial Times will present the first panel, and Enterprise Works will convene the second panel. The day will conclude with an open house reception and showcase of social enterprise across the city of York and wider region, where they are also invited to present their work in a quick fire round of 3 minute ‘pitch’ sessions.

The day will explore how York can harness the power of its major employers, education providers and social enterprise organisations to deliver real benefit for, and with, its residents in the context of devolution and an integrated approach to the enhancement of investment opportunities, the provision of affordable housing, and innovative cultural and social spaces. 

The Festival Focus, starting at 12.30pm on 15 June at St Saviourgate, York, will include two panel discussions spotlighting how major employers, educational institutions and social enterprise can work together to energise sustainable urban regeneration. 

There will also be an opportunity for representatives of local and regional employers, and education and social enterprises, to meet and discuss a mutually supportive future.

The event is part of a public series sponsored by the N8 Research Partnership and the RSA bringing together inspiring speakers from  the public, private and academic sectors to discuss how levelling-up is shaping the North and how this region is leading the conversation nationally.

Panel discussions will feature contributions from a range of speakers including Andrew Farrimond, Aviva Capital Partners; renowned architect and urban designer, Riccardo Marini; Ellie Williams, C40 Cities; Jen Williams of the Financial Times; Chairman of the N8 and Vice-Chancellor of the University of York Professor Charlie Jeffery;  Joanna Pollard of Social Enterprise UK, and Stephen Hunt from Carsis..

John Cummins, CEO, Aviva Capital Partners, said: "We are extremely excited to be taking part in York Festival of Ideas, alongside the N8 and the RSA. Sustainable urban regeneration is crucial in ensuring a prosperous future for our towns and cities, something we are committed to contributing to at Aviva."

Professor Charlie Jeffery said: “The N8 is at the centre of efforts to build a sustainable and inclusive future for our cities by supplying the R&D innovations and graduate talent that drive collaboration with business and industry across the North creating real economic and societal impact. This Festival Focus provides the opportunity to explore the opportunities for creating innovative partnerships that will drive economic growth."  

Festival Director Joan Concannon added: "We are grateful to our partners for helping to assemble such an impressive group of speakers. This event will explore how we can combine the strengths of social enterprise, the private sector and educational institutions to support and engage communities and create innovation to deliver economic growth, social value and opportunities that benefit everyone."

The Festival Focus will feature two panel discussions:

Reimagining Cities in the Context of Urban Regeneration 

Regenerating urban spaces to create a sustainable future for our communities represents a key challenge for the UK. Digitalisation, globalisation and demographic shifts make it even more complex. Our expert panel will discuss how we can  build the skills of the workforce to address these changes while supporting risk-taking, entrepreneurship and safeguarding job quality, collective bargaining and social protection. The panel, chaired by Jen Williams of the Financial Times, includes  Andrew Farrimond, Aviva Capital Partners; Jen Williams of the Financial Times; Chairman of the N8 and Vice-Chancellor of the University of York Professor Charlie Jeffery,  and Ellie White, of C40 - Cities Climate Leadership Group. 

The Importance of Social Enterprise 

Social enterprise plays a significant role in delivering exciting community-based entrepreneurship, but the sector is often overlooked in the national discourse on how to achieve levelling-up. Our expert panel, chaired by Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Partnerships and Engagement at the University of York Professor Kiran Trehan, and including Richard Brice of Clean Slate Solutions; Joanna Pollard of Social Enterprise UK; Tom Mackenzie of SPARK York, and Stephen Hunt from Carsis will discuss how to make sure social enterprise is at the heart of urban regeneration.


Further Information:

York Festival of Ideas: 


N8 Partnership: