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£1.5m gift from Sir Terry Leahy for regional inequality research

31 May 2024

Former Chancellor funds work to unlock the growth potential of the regions and boost UK’s economic prospects

Sir Terry Leahy

The University has received a £1.5 million donation from business leader and alumnus Sir Terry Leahy.

The gift will fund research into regional economic disparities and the impact of policies aimed at rejuvenating and rebalancing the productivity and prosperity of the UK’s cities and regions.

A graduate (BSc (Hons) Management Sciences 1977) and former Chancellor of our University, Sir Terry is one of the UK’s most respected and influential business leaders, best known for his leadership of Tesco PLC.

He received a knighthood for services to food retailing in 2002, an Honorary Doctorate of Science from UMIST in 2002 and an Honorary LLD from The University of Manchester in 2008.

The gift will support the establishment of the Sir Terry Leahy Chair in Urban and Regional Economics. Part of Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS), the new position will oversee detailed research into regional productivity inequalities.

The first appointment to the Chair will be award-winning economist Professor Philip McCann – a specialist in the analysis of regional economic inequalities and the identification of new pathways to change the trajectory of the UK economy.

The Professor’s new role will see him lead projects which will build the University’s profile as a leading voice on the economics of place prosperity and social mobility.

Professor McCann, who is also a member of The Productivity Institute, based at AMBS, said: “The UK has some of the largest regional productivity inequalities of any developed country in the world, and these have an acute impact on prosperity, social mobility, quality of life and life expectancy across the country.

“Tackling these disparities will be key to unlocking the country’s growth potential. Doing so will require thorough, extensive research into the key drivers of regional productivity inequalities and what can be done to solve them, and through Sir Terry’s generosity, we look forward to building on the progress we have already made on these issues in The Productivity Institute at The University Manchester.”

Sir Terry Leahy said: "I am delighted to have the opportunity to support Philip McCann in his important research at The University of Manchester. Philip has a worldwide reputation as an academic in urban and regional economics. His work has much to contribute to the growth prospects of the UK economy by unlocking the growth potential of the regions."

President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell said: “The UK’s regional productivity gap is well publicised, and we believe that both academia and business have a key role to play in working with policymakers to find and implement the solutions required to solve these disparities.

“Donations such as Sir Terry’s are integral in granting leading experts the time, resources and stability required to tackle our society’s biggest issues. We thank him for his generosity and look forward to continuing to develop our long-standing relationship in our bicentenary year and in the years to come.”