Neil Darwin, Managing Director of Cambridge and Leeds-based economic and commercial development consultancy Deyton Bell, has been appointed to the Institute of Economic Development (IED) Board of Directors.
With over 30 years’ experience working in economic development, Neil has led Deyton Bell’s support for global public, private and not-for-profit organisations via consultancy, in-house and outsourced services since December 2020, having first joined the organisation in 2017.
Neil was formerly Chief Executive of Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP and Opportunity Peterborough, the city’s urban regeneration company, and Managing Director of Regional Cities East. He specialises in strategy development, programme management, delivery and change management, developing organisational capacity and capability, and works with partners across the UK and Europe.
Having held a number of economic development roles across public and private sectors, and with extensive experience in political environments, Neil is aiming to bring a wealth of knowledge to support the IED’s mission for change.
“The economic development landscape is currently the most fractured I have known with a critical debate underway between growth and inclusion, with a need for rapid action to achieve net zero,” Neil said. “These macro challenges require the IED to have a strong national voice and exert influence as we move towards the next general election. Recent progress by the IED has been positive and the Grow Local, Grow National manifesto presents an important blueprint for the sector and government to grasp. The scale of the challenge facing the sector was my motivation for seeking a board position.”
Having been an IED member for around 25 years, Neil suggested that the Institute has “never been in better health” and that economic development is “as hot as it has been for a long time” as it rises to the forefront of the policy agenda.
“Throughout my career, operating around the country, I have developed strong insights into economic opportunities and threats impacting our towns, cities, rural and coastal communities,” he explained. “My work with various local authorities has shown that in an era of austerity, economic development capacity has diminished, yet those same authorities rely heavily on economic development to keep their communities prosperous and increasingly bring in new income. We are on the cusp of change, and the IED’s call for councils to be given statutory powers over economic development is the manifesto for delivering it.”
Neil added that “the next chapter for UK economic development is arguably the most important to date”, and he would also bring his specialist expertise in innovation, business support, infrastructure development and delivery, inward investment and skills to the Board.
The Chief Economist at Deyton Bell also reflected on his own experience as an IED member. “There is more value now than ever before,” Neil said. “Myself, and the Deyton Bell team, have attended different IED events and engaged in learning modules on the way. Connections are being facilitated above and beyond the Annual Conference, and we are seeing a more inclusive network, sharing of knowledge and experiences, as well as movement to influence national decision-making on economic development.”
IED Chair Tom Stannard added: “I am pleased to welcome Neil to the Board, not least given his vast experience working in economic development across public, private and government sectors, all of which make up IED membership.”