Personal profile

Academic Biography

Nick's research expertise centres on local and regional politics and economic development, currently articulated in the UK Government’s Levelling Up agenda. His recent work in this area includes a critical examination of Levelling Up in practice (unpacking its main ingredients) and a study on the potential for free ports in the UK to contribute to decarbonisation.  

He is also a lead contributor to PACE, Teesside University’s policy observatory, which works to further the university's policy engagement and influence with national, regional and local institutions. In this capacity, Nick’s work includes collaborations with Northern Powerhouse Partnership and The Joseph Rowntree Foundation that highlighted the inadequacies of the Shared Prosperity Fund (the post-Brexit replacement for EU regional development funds). Alongside this, Nick helped develop Teesside University’s policy partnerships with a secondment at IPPR North, the leading policy thinktank based in the north of England.

Prior to working in higher education, Nick was a policy advisor in Local Government, covering multiple policy areas including economic analysis, devolution and regional governance, welfare reform, migration and asylum, and social inclusion. In this role, Nick’s successful projects included, A living wage for NewcastleThe Newcastle Fairness Commission, and the Newcastle Future Needs Assessment – a collaborative and evidence-based approach to bringing partners together to determine priorities for the city.

Professional associations

  • Fellow of the Regional Studies Association and former North East England regional chair 

Journal papers

  • Cotton, M., Tyfield, D., Gray, N. & Yuille, A. (2024) The politics of freeports – a place-based analysis of regional economic regeneration in the United Kingdom. Local Economy.
  • Gray, N and Broadhurst, K (2023) Post Brexit regional policy in England: exploring “levelling up” in practice. Regional Studies. 
  • O'Malley, C., Lake, A., Moore, H., Gray, N., Bradford, C., Petrokofsky, C., Papadaki, A., Spence, S., Lloyd, S., Chang, M. & Townshend, T (2023). Regulatory mechanisms to create healthier environments: Planning appeals and hot food takeaways in England.  Perspectives in Public Health. 
  • Broadhurst, K; Steane, E; Mykhneko, V and Gray, N (2023) Intergovernmental dynamics in responding to COVID-19 in English and Australian cities, Cambridge Journal of Regions Economy and Society.
  • Broadhurst, K. and Gray, N. (2022) Understanding resilient places: Multi-level governance in times of crisis, Local Economy.
  • Moore, H., Lake, A., O’Malley, C., Bradford, C., Gray, N., Chang, M., Mathews, C., & Townshend, T. (2022). The impact of COVID-19 on the hot food takeaway planning regulatory environment: perspectives of local authority professionals in the North East of England. Perspectives in Public Health
  • Pugalis, L and Gray, N (2016) - New regional development paradigms: an exposition of place-based modalities - The Australasian Journal of Regional Studies.
  • Pugalis, L; Townsend, A; Gray, N and Ankowska, A (2017) New approaches to growth planning at larger-than-local scales: Journal of Urban Regeneration & Renewal

Book chapters

  • Gray, N; Pugalis, L; Dickinson, D (2018) The Northern Powerhouse meets the Cities and Local Growth agenda: Local economic policymaking and agglomeration in practice, in: Berry, C & Giovannini, A, eds. Developing England’s North: The political economy of the northern powerhouse, London, Palgrave Macmillan
  • Gray, N. & Pugalis, L. (2016): Place-based subnational development: Unpacking some of the key conceptual strands and normative dispositions, in: Schoburgh, E. D. & Ryan, R., eds. The Handbook of Research on Subnational Governance and Development, Hershey, Pennsylvania, IGI Global.
  • Pugalis, L; Gray, N and Townsend, A (2016) – The resilience of growth strategies in, Williams, N & Vorley, T  Creating economic resilience; entrepreneurship, growth and development in uncertain times, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar Publishing

 Policy reports 

  • Cotton, M., Tyfield, D., Gray, N., Yuille, A. (2023) CarbonFreeports: Freeports as opportunities, not threats, for place-based decarbonisation. Final Report. DecarboN8: Leeds.
  • Webb, J, Emden, J, Gray, N (2023) The Hydrogen Powerhouse? Demystifying the North’s Hydrogen Economy. IPPR North.
  • Pugalis, L; Townsend, A; Gray, N; and Ankowska, A (2015) - Planning for Growth: The Role of Local Enterprise Partnerships in England – Royal Town Planning Institute.

 Other publications

  • Gray, N and Morris, M (2022) The Shared Prosperity Fund: What can we learn from government’s plan to replace EU funds? IPPR North
  • Tyfield, D, Yuille, A Cotton, M and Gray, N (2021) Written Evidence to the UK Parliament Environmental Audit Committee: Inquiry on carbon border adjustment mechanism
  • Gray, N (2021) Elections 2021: Can the Conservatives deliver real change in Tees Valley? PACE Policy Paper, Teesside University
  • Gray, N and Lee, D (2020) Post-Covid recovery – what now for regional growth? PACE policy paper, Teesside University
  • Pugalis, L; Townsend, A; Ankowska, A and Gray, N (2015) - A renaissance of strategic economic planning - Terrier Vol.20, Issue 3, Autumn 2015, pp. 14-7
  • Pugalis, L; Townsend, A; Gray, N; and Ankowska, A (2015) - The role of Strategic Economic Plans in filling the strategic void? - Town & Country Planning Vol.84, No.9, pp. 384-391 


Education/Academic qualification

PhD, The Political Economy of Place-Based Development , Northumbria University

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or