Looking Back on the Virtual Technician Partnership Conference 2020

By 31st July 2020 Blog

The Technician Partnership Conference was a collaboration between the N8 Research Partnership, Newcastle University and the NTDC. It was a virtual event, held on 24th June 2020.

The aim of the Technician Partnership Conference was to bring together technicians from higher education and industry, strengthen the links between these sectors and provide a space for networking and collaboration.

Speakers from both sectors were met with great feedback (see a copy of the programme below) and the day included additional zoom sessions to facilitate networking. These displayed ‘Technician Profiles” from technicians across the sector and photos from the NTDC Photo Competition that ran earlier this year, to showcase the importance and diverse nature of roles across the technical community.

“There is definitely a place for digital conferences going forward. We were taken to space, Everest and to the ocean all from the comfort of our own homes. The event was well organised and had a breadth of interesting and relevant sessions, including a thought provoking talk on lab efficiencies and sustainability. A clear theme from the day, is the current focus and commitment across the university sector, to recognise, professionalise and raise the profiles of technicians.”
– Dr Aaron Butt, Microbiology Technical Team Leader, Faculty of Science & Engineering, Manchester Metropolitan University

TPC2020 was a wonderful way for the technician community to explore how it can work together to learn new skills, access resources and drive innovation in the North. Such activities will be of increasing importance as activity picks up again as the academic community emerges from lockdown.

The conference also provided an opportunity for attendees to explore career pathways and what needs to be done to ensure the high quality technicians are able to flourish at Northern universities. Helen Sharman, the first British astronaut and President of the Institute of Science and Technology opened the conference at 9.30am. The day’s keynote speaker was Rebecca Stephens, who was the first British woman to climb the Seven Summits – the attendees found that her inspiring contains many learnings on how to approach challenges within academia and industry, as well as in other aspects of life.

Throughout the day, there were 12 parallel sessions that covered topics such as training, development, apprenticeships, science, engineering, arts and environmental sustainability in laboratories, with sustained and enthusiastic engagement from attendees throughout.


Dr Annette Bramley, director, N8 Research Partnership said: “It is difficult to do justice to the vital work that technicians play across research, yet the importance of their role can sometimes be

“The N8 Research Partnership was proud to co-host the Technician Partnership Conference alongside the NTDC and Newcastle University, welcoming over 300 delegates and some inspiring keynote speakers and panellists to the virtual event.

“The event demonstrated the importance of technicians to the work our universities undertake, and the many great collaborations taking place between technicians across multiple universities and businesses that are helping to drive forward the economy and communities across the Northern Powerhouse.

“We look forward to continuing to working closely with the NTDC to explore ways to promote the resources it has for technician development and to assist in creating a sustainable future for technical staff and services.”