North East region responds to National Infrastructure Assessment

Representatives from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, all seven local authorities and the region’s business community came together today (13 November) to discuss the future of infrastructure in the UK as part of a visit by the National Infrastructure Commission.

The organisation, which provides expert, impartial advice to government on infrastructure – is currently touring the country to discuss its recently published National Infrastructure Assessment.  The first of its kind for the UK, it analyses the UK’s long-term economic infrastructure needs, outlines a strategic vision over the next 30 years and sets out recommendations on how the identified needs should be met.

Published once a parliament, today’s event was an opportunity for the North East to provide feedback on the assessment and discuss how the recommendations will support economic prosperity in the region.

Organised by the North East LEP, attendees met with Sir John Armitt, Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, and Bridget Rosewell OBE, Commissioner at the National Infrastructure Commission.

Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East LEP said: “It’s important for us as a region to plan for the long-term recommendations in the National Infrastructure Assessment and respond to the opportunities and challenges it raises. Having the chance to discuss its impact on the North East and how it fits with our Strategic Economic Plan has been a fantastic opportunity.

“We’re keen to identify areas where the North East can take forward work to shape areas like digital connectivity, management of flooding and new transport investments, and how we can ensure the region benefits from future infrastructure funding.

“We were able to bring together key representatives from the public and private sector to learn more about the Assessment and provide feedback to Sir John and his colleagues about the region’s response to it.

“It’s great to see the National Infrastructure Commission consulting the North East on issues that will have a significant impact our region and we look forward to working with them to establish a future co-operative approach.”

The National Infrastructure Assessment puts forward a series of recommendations on six key areas; building a digital society, low cost and low carbon energy, revolutionising road transport, transport and housing for thriving city regions, reducing the risks of drought and flooding, and choosing and designing infrastructure. Government has 12 months to formally respond to the Assessment.

Sir John Armitt CBE, Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, said: “From the redevelopment of the Gateshead Quays to South Shields’ new transport interchange, it’s clear that councils and businesses across the North East are keeping a strong focus on improving local infrastructure for the benefit of residents.

“Our National Infrastructure Assessment – a first for the UK – has strong recommendations which, if adopted, could make a real difference for the region. In particular, our call for a truly national charging network for electric vehicles would support take-up across the country, as well as here at the home of the Nissan Leaf.

“This, and our proposals for devolving more transport funding to cities rolling out full-fibre broadband and providing more energy from low-carbon sources, would benefit the region and the country as a whole, and I hope local leaders will make the case to ministers to make them a reality.”

Held at the offices of Ward Hadaway in Newcastle, the roundtable discussion explored the opportunities and challenges of the Assessment for the region and how the North East can help take them forward.

Organisations representing the region included; the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, Nexus, Environment Agency, Newcastle International Airport, North East Combined Authority (NECA), the region’s local authorities and the newly formed North of Tyne Combined Authority.

Colin Hewitt, Partner and Head of the Commercial team at Ward Hadaway, said: “We are delighted to host this roundtable discussion. It will give us a chance to talk about the types of infrastructure the UK should be investing in and also establish a new way to think about infrastructure closer to home, with a focus on how it affects our quality of life and the success of the North East economy.”

For more information about the National Infrastructure Commission and to read the National Infrastructure Assessment, visit

If you have any further questions about this article, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.

£500m contract opportunity attracts over 100 businesses

More than 150 businesses attended an event at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland today (8 October) to find out how they can be part of the supply chain to deliver a contract worth £500m that will see a new fleet of trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro designed, built and maintained.

Organised by the North East Growth Hub in conjunction with Transport Executive Nexus, businesses had the chance to meet the five bidders shortlisted for the contract and the other companies who could form part of the supply chain. Businesses were able to pitch to each of the five bidders and showcase how they would make a valuable contribution to the contract.

The five bidders are Bombardier Transportation UK Ltd; Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles, S.A. (CAF); Downer EDI Rail Pty Ltd – a joint venture between Downer EDI Rail and CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles Co. Ltd; Hitachi Rail Europe Ltd; and Stadler Bussnang AG

A whole host of opportunities are potentially up for grabs as the fleet replacement programme moves forward, from the manufacture and supply of 42 news trains to the construction of a new maintenance facility. There will also be contracts available for the decommissioning and removal of railway assets and the disposal of the current fleet.

The contracts are due to be awarded by Nexus, which owns and operates Metro, by the end of 2019.

Colin Bell, Business Growth Director at the North East LEP, opened the event by talking about the North East Growth Hub and wider business support on offer.

He said: “This is an important contract for the North East, which has a well-established transport sector served by a thriving supply chain. Bringing these companies together with the bidders is a fantastic way to raise awareness of the opportunity; helping organisations build their networks and find new ways to partner on lucrative contracts.”

Neil Blagburn, Metro Development Director at Nexus, said: “Our investment in new trains will transform passengers’ experience of the Tyne and Wear Metro. We have issued an Invitation to Negotiate to five bidders who, between them, are building trains for many of the world’s biggest cities and rail networks.

“This event, organised by the North East LEP, has been an opportunity for our short-listed bidders to meet supply chain companies they could work with in the construction and maintenance of both trains and depot in the next few years, but also their ongoing maintenance for decades to come.”

Invest North East England (INEE), the first point of contact for companies looking to invest in our region, also attended on the day to discuss inward investment opportunities with the bidders.

Guy Currey, INEE Director, said: “We have a comprehensive package of free support available to organisations seeking development opportunities in the North East of England. This event showcased the talent and supply chain infrastructure in the region, demonstrating exactly why this is a good place to live, work and grow a business.”

Celebrating North East Health, Life Science and Pharmaceuticals

I’m pleased to be able to unveil the North East LEP’s new brochure ‘Excelling in Life Sciences’, which has been developed with the North East Health and Life Sciences Working Group, led by new Chair Professor Michael Whitaker, to demonstrate the North East’s wide-ranging asset base in this key part of the economy, both nationally and regionally.

Health and Life Sciences are highlighted in the North East Strategic Economic Plan as one of four key areas of opportunity for the region – areas of the economy which can help drive high productivity and better jobs.

As Professor John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford and Sponsor of the Government’s Life Sciences Industrial Strategy says, “The North East has a diverse and vibrant clustering of life sciences, manufacturing and health services….and …. the work that is being done in the North East can support more growth in the region and make a strong contribution to a wider UK initiative to promote research collaboration, partnership and investment globally as part of the Government’s Life Sciences Industrial Strategy”.

The new brochure goes into detail of three areas of Health and Life Sciences where the North East has particular strengths:

  • A thriving life science community with world leading health research and outstanding and innovative NHS healthcare organisations, a vibrant SME base including companies working in precision medicine and medical technologies, testing and clinical trials and centres of excellence in precision medicine, digital health and advanced therapies.
  • An established, globally focused and successful pharmaceuticals manufacturing sector including 15 pharmaceutical manufacturers with deep sector knowledge, diverse business models and a global outlook including very strong export performance and international investment from across the world.
  • An internationally recognised specialism in ageing and age-related diseases: Newcastle is a globally recognised hub for the development of medical science and social research in response to the challenges and opportunities of ageing populations.

This is supported by a vibrant and well networked eco-system including business networks and cluster bodies, key sites and facilities dedicated to the development of health and life sciences, a strong education offer in both health and associated sciences as well as links directly to the UK Catapult Network, through the Centre for Process Innovation which operates a number of noted innovation facilities in the region.

The last year has seen some new additions to this ecosystem with the opening of the National Innovation Centre for Ageing at the Helix in Newcastle, and the National Formulation Centre at NetPark in Sedgefield. Businesses in the region also strongly welcomed the confirmation of the new North East Fund programmes which offer a range of new sources of business finance.

There are other key initiatives in the future pipeline including the new Northern Alliance Advanced Therapies Treatment Centre awarded to Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Trust this spring, the North East LEP funded Centre for Innovation in Health Care Photonics and a new Medical School at Sunderland University – all adding support to the future momentum of the region in this key sector.

And these come at a time when the Government is seeking to strengthen this sector through key programmes within the Industrial Strategy including the Life Sciences sector deal and Grand Challenges on ageing and data, both opportunities for the region.

Read more in our Excelling in Life Sciences brochure.

Richard Baker, Head of Strategy and Policy, North East LEP.

Opportunity to tender – Interim evaluation of Strategic Economic Plan

The North East LEP is committed to being a learning organisation, ensuring that up-to-date economic analysis, evaluation and evidence development is at the heart of its work.

Monitoring and evaluation activities form a key component of this ambition as it provides an opportunity to demonstrate impact and effectiveness of inventions and a solid evidence base for future decision making by the LEP, its partners and others engaged in local economic development.

As part of an ongoing programme of research and evaluation activities, the North East LEP wishes to commission the interim evaluation of the North East Strategic Economic Plan (SEP). The SEP sets out the ambition for the North East economy.

To support the delivery of the SEP objectives and targets, the interim evaluation will assess the effectiveness and impact of the delivery of the SEP from its publication in 2014 and the North East LEP itself in the number of roles it plays in supporting the economy. The appointed contactor will also work with the North East LEP on fund or project evaluations so that individual project activities align with and feed into the interim SEP evaluation.

The appointed contractor will bring together existing monitoring and evaluation findings to present an overall picture of the impact of the SEP on the North East economy, alongside undertaking mini project evaluations and primary research activities to capture strategic added value. In light of this, we anticipate that the successful contractor will have a clear understanding of the North East economy and regional economic development alongside experience and expertise in evaluation methodologies and innovative approaches to conducting research.

The interim evaluation will start in June 2018 and continue until March 2021, and will help to inform the final evaluation of the SEP (to be undertaken between 2021 and 2024) and other SEP research and evaluation.

The contract value is a maximum of £30,000 (including expenses, excluding VAT) will be available each year over three years.

If you are interested in this opportunity or would like more information, please register your interest and download the tender specification from NEPO

Please note that the closing date for expressions of interest is 12noon on 14 May 2018.

Thinking global to grow the North East economy

By Victoria Sutherland, Senior Economist at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership

As an economist working at the North East LEP, one of the questions I’m asked the most is ‘how is the North East economy performing?’

On Tuesday 6 March I had the opportunity to answer that question at the launch of the ‘Our Economy 2018’ report.

More than 200 people joined me, Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East LEP, and our panel of speakers to learn more about the current state of the North East economy and to consider how we build our global linkages.

It was a pleasure to see colleagues from across the business community, as well as government departments, local authorities and education at the launch.

We were able to share positive news about the North East economy and update on the good progress that has been made against the Strategic Economic Plan targets. A key highlight is that the number of jobs in the North East has increased by 55,200 since 2014, putting us on track to meet our target of 100,000 more and better jobs by 2024.

We are also particularly pleased that the employment rate and economic activity rate have increased – meaning residents are benefiting from the additional job opportunities – and that the gap with England excluding London on these measures has reduced.

The event focused on the North East’s role in the global economy and the importance of international connections. We had the pleasure of hearing from guest speaker Jason Knights, managing director of brand creative agency Blue Kangaroo, about his organisation’s international links and how thinking global has seen his company flourish.

Blue Kangaroo now work with some of the biggest brands in the world, including The Walt Disney Company and Mattel, all from its base in Gateshead.

Our panel discussion saw contributions from Marian Sudbury, Director, Global Operations for the Northern Powerhouse at the Department for International Trade and Professor Nick Wright, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Business at Newcastle University.

We learnt more about the support and advice on offer to North East businesses looking to export and how our region’s universities have built their global connections and welcomed over 17,000 international students to the North East last year.

The North East’s excellent air and sea connectivity was highlighted as being critical for supporting our global connections. In 2016, the North East’s ports handled 5.7m tonnes of freight and Newcastle Airport handled 4.8 million passengers, 76% travelling between Newcastle and international destinations.

A questions and answer session followed with some fantastic debate around the findings in the report and a call to action by Andrew Hodgson for North East businesses to be proud of their achievements and to champion the region on the international stage.

To coincide with the publication of the ‘Our Economy’ report, the North East LEP, in partnership with the North East Combined Authority, has launched the North East Data Hub. This is a digital platform that gathers data from across the region on the economy and transport and allows users to download and compare data in a simple, user-friendly way.

To find out more information about the North East Data Hub, visit and for more information about ‘Our Economy 2018’ and to read the report in full, visit

North East region launches its own data hub

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership and North East Combined Authority have joined forces to launch a brand new website that provides live data on the performance of the North East economy and transport infrastructure.

The North East Data Hub – – is a one-stop-shop for the latest statistics on the regional economy and North East transport trends.

Launched to coincide with the publication of the North East LEP’s first, annual, ‘Our Economy’ report, The North East Data Hub uses live data from the North East transport and economic authorities to give a real-time picture of how the region is performing.

Victoria Sutherland, Senior Economist at the North East LEP said: “We, along with many of our partners, collect a lot of data about the North East region. By sharing this detailed information we can support residents, businesses, policy makers and other regional bodies to use the data to help grow our economy. 

“The North East Combined Authority, Traffic and Accident Data Unit (TADU), Urban Traffic Management and Control (UTMC) and Nexus are all partners of the project and have helped create the most comprehensive data resource in the North East; one that’s open to all and free to use.”

In addition to providing live data about regional transport and the economy, The North East Data Hub also has a comparison tool, allowing users to analyse data further against a range of different metrics.

Cllr Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council and North East Combined Authority Thematic Lead for Economic Development and Regeneration, said: “It’s important we track our progress as a region and the The North East Data Hub allows us to do that.

“We collect a host of data, everything from bus and metro usage to traffic flow and average vehicle speed. This helps us paint a picture of the regional transport system and how it must adapt over time. Combining that with economic data from the North East LEP, we have created a valuable resource for the region.”

The North East Data Hub has been designed to make all regional data available for public view and analysis. It launches on the same day the North East LEP publishes its ‘Our Economy’ report, which tells the story of the North East economy.

As new data becomes available it will be uploaded to the website providing an up-to-date picture of the North East economy and transport activity.

For more information, visit

North East says better connectivity is key to improving productivity

Business and regional bodies say improved connectivity can drive productivity growth across much of the UK and contribute to closing the gap between the best and worst performing regions, according to a new study published today by HS2 Ltd.

Drawing on evidence from over 100 employers, local authorities and universities across the UK, HS2: Getting the best out of Britain, highlights the regional strengths of highly skilled manufacturing clusters, universities and research centres, and cutting edge technology entrepreneurs, but warns that more needs to be done to draw them together and realise their full potential. In the North East, the report shows how HS2 will help close the productivity gap by:

  • Making it easier for businesses across the North East connect, both to each other, and to the manufacturing plants, suppliers, universities and research centres in York, Nottingham, Derby and Birmingham as well as new sources of finance, particularly in London;
  • Encouraging collaboration in the knowledge based industries in the region, in particular the software technology, gaming and creative businesses based in Newcastle and the growing number of software companies in Sunderland and DigitalCity on Teeside;
  • Better connect the region’s exporters by cutting journey times from Newcastle to Heathrow Airport by 1 hour and 20 minutes.

HS2 services will join the existing rail network near York, with trains continuing to serve Darlington, Durham and Newcastle, providing faster and more reliable journeys to the East Midlands, Birmingham and London.

David Higgins, Chairman of HS2 Ltd said:

“This report is the evidence that HS2 will boost productivity in the north and midlands. This is a once in a generation opportunity to join up and amplify the many centres of excellence around the country, as we prepare to exit the European Union.

“By improving the connectivity between our major population centres HS2 will give business access to the skills, labour and services they need to change the economic geography of the country.”

Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport said:

“This study clearly shows transport investment is crucial to a strong and resilient economy. That’s why we are investing in all forms of transport including the biggest rail modernisation programme for over a century to improve services for passengers – providing faster and better trains with more seats.

“As Britain’s new railway, HS2 will deliver vital links between some of our country’s biggest cities, driving economic growth and productivity and helping to deliver the Government’s Industrial Strategy.

“By bringing our major cities, regions and communities closer together we are encouraging business and innovation and building a Britain that is fit for the future with a stronger economy and fairer society.”

The North East is home to over 2.5 million people and contributes more than £45 billion annually to the UK economy. Yet in the Newcastle city region, productivity is 87% of national average, and in the Tees Valley, 90% of the national average. Across the North East, only manufacturing has a level of productivity close to the average for England.

In terms of talent, the report shows that world-leading skills and research in the North East can match that of London and the South East. Cities and regions in the Midlands and North account for 32% of the UK’s research staff working in universities with high quality research, compared to 35% in London and the South East, and high quality universities produce thousands of graduates every year.

Despite this, employers in the North are still held back by a lack of access to skills, frequently citing lack of skills as a barrier to growth. At the same time London continues to attract graduates from around the country with nearly half of its population at NVQ4 qualification level or above, compared to 30% in the North East and Tees Valley.

The report, to be launched at an event in Nottingham later today, demonstrates that by joining up the major conurbations around the country, HS2 will enable a greater pooling of people and capital around the regions of the UK. This connectivity will enable businesses in the North and the Midlands to gain better access to new markets, investments, and become more globally attractive.

Jonathan Walker, Head of Policy and Campaigns, North East England Chamber of Commerce said:

“We were pleased to contribute to this report and welcome its findings, which make clear the substantial economic impact first-class connectivity can bring to a region.  We have backed investment in high-speed rail in order to improve the capacity and reliability of the national rail network.

“When fully integrated alongside other planned improvements to regional rail and public transport infrastructure, HS2 has the potential to unlock significant investment in North East England”.

Helen Golightly, Executive Director at the North East LEP, said:

“The impact of HS2 trains on the North East is more than simply a reduction in journey times, it will enable faster and stronger business connections between the North East economy and other centres across the North and beyond. The North East is a forward-thinking centre for innovation and industry and we will be working to maximise the benefits for the region of this improved connectivity.”

In addition, the study finds that by bringing major cities closer together, HS2 would further support the distribution of the £17bn professional services market around the whole country. With office costs up to 80% cheaper in the North compare to London, and salaries up to 40% lower, huge efficiency savings can be made. Prime office rents in Newcastle are for example, one fifth of rents in the West End of London.

Comparing London’s highly-efficient transport network with the connectivity that exists within and between city regions in the Midlands and the North, the study argues that there is a direct link between productivity and connectivity.

HS2 will serve around 30m people and directly serve 25 stations, joining up the dots between where we are now, and where we could get to as a country – a combination of more capacity and better connectivity will improve accessibility, and, therefore, productivity in the Midlands and the North – at the same time as easing the pressure on London.


HS2: Getting the best out of Britain here.

Download the North East regional briefing here.


Case studies:

Centre for Process Innovation – Redcar

The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) is a UK based technology innovation centre and the process arm of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult. Established to support the UK process manufacturing industry, CPI collaborates with universities, SMEs and large corporates to help overcome innovation challenges and develop next generation products and processes. Operating across a broad range of technologies, we support our partners at every step of the way; from concept to market; business support to technology development; from scale up to supply chain intervention.

Leaf FM – Newcastle

Leaf, a mobile application, uses their online community to enable its users to discover, connect, and support music artists. It was founded in Newcastle in 2014.


Notes to Editors

HS2 Ltd media team contact details:

  • Monday to Friday (9am to 5pm) 020 7944 6149
  • Out of hours & weekends 020 7944 0550

Background information

The Government gave the go ahead for a UK high speed rail network, called High Speed Two (HS2), on 10 January 2012.

HS2 will be a Y-shaped rail network providing direct, high capacity, high speed rail links between London and Birmingham and on to Leeds and Manchester. HS2 will improve capacity across the rail network, shorten journey times between Britain’s major cities, boost the UK economy and create tens of thousands of jobs.

In 2012, HS2 Ltd submitted proposals to the Secretary of State for Phase Two of the project from the West Midlands to Leeds and Manchester. The Government announced its initial preferred route for Phase Two on 28 January 2013 and the public consultation on these proposals ran from 17 July 2013 to 31 January 2014.

The HS2 hybrid Bill for Phase One of the new railway between London and the West Midlands (effectively the ‘in-principle’ planning application for the scheme) was deposited in Parliament on 25 November 2013.

MPs debated and approved second reading of the High Speed Rail (hybrid) Bill for construction and operation of the line between London and the West Midlands in the House of Commons on 28 April 2014. MPs voted 452 to 41 to agree the second reading of the Bill.  Royal Assent, which grants powers for construction of the Phase One route, was awarded on 23 February 2017.

In November 2015 the Government confirmed the section of the Phase Two route between Fradley, at the northern end of Phase 1, and Crewe. Known as Phase 2a it will open in 2027 and deliver the benefits of high speed rail to Crewe; Manchester; north west England; north Wales and Scotland six years earlier than planned.

The Government made an announcement on the rest of the Phase Two route serving Manchester on the western leg, and the East Midlands, South Yorkshire and Leeds on the eastern leg on 15 November 2016.

HS2 Ltd is a company wholly owned by the Department for Transport (DfT). It is responsible for design, engineering and construction of HS2.


5G North East consortium appoints project director

5G North East, the consortium leading the development of the region’s plan to create a national 5G testbed has appointed a highly-experienced project director.

Xavier Priem will lead the drive to position the North East as a key focus for the UK’s 5G revolution.

Xavier has extensive experience working for multiple telecom suppliers, their customers and, network operators. He has established specialist 5G research and innovation centres and projects across Europe.

His appointment comes as the Government is looking to establish the UK as a global leader in 5G enabled communications and is seeking to establish a group of testbeds to trial the technology.

Xavier said: “This is a fantastic chance to establish a transformative ecosystem that will create new jobs and economic opportunities for the North East.

“I come from the North East of France which has in many ways followed a similar trajectory as the North East of England, reinventing itself and generating new economic opportunities in technology and innovation following the decline of traditional industries.

“Having the opportunity to contribute to establishing the North East as a technology- enabled innovation powerhouse within the UK and global community is a very exciting role to undertake.

“I am looking forward to helping to create 5G North East and delivering new economic value and improved services for people in the region. Success for 5G North East will see the generation of new jobs, the bringing of new industries to the region and the creation of new opportunities for local businesses to develop high value services on a 5G network that will provide operators with testing capabilities. It will ultimately lead to wider roll out and better mobile services to the general public.”

Xavier’s previous posts include three years as business development and portfolio manager at the French Institute of Research and Technology (IRT) B-COM.

Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East LEP, one of the consortium partners, said: “The North East partners are committed to producing a strong and long term programme that will showcase the region’s suitability as a testbed and lead to a sustainable 5G delivery system in the region.

“We are delighted to welcome Xavier to the team. We are confident his experience in research, project management and commercialisation strategy, and his vast technical, commercial and global network knowledge will help position and elevate the North East’s reputation in the 5G ecosystem.”

Strong UK economic and job growth opportunities identified in new Science and Innovation Audit

North of England and Scotland at the heart of globally important offshore renewable energy sector

A new audit of the offshore renewable energy industry in the North of England and Scotland (published today, 21st September 2017) demonstrates the strong contribution the region makes to the UK’s position as a global leader in innovation in offshore renewable energy.
The report highlights the area’s world-class research in the field of offshore renewable energy, the strong supply chain, and the many innovation programmes and strong collaborations between industry and academia.

It was noted that the number of people directly employed in offshore wind in the UK could double between 2017 and 2032, meaning there is an immediate need to join up education and training providers with the future industry demand for a higher-skilled workforce with key skills in areas including engineering and manufacturing.

The Offshore Renewable Energy Science and Innovation Audit (SIA) was one of eight audits commissioned by Government to set out the UK’s strengths in key areas. The audits help regions to map their research and innovation strengths and identify areas of potential global competitive advantage.

This SIA focused on the international competitiveness of the research and innovation activities in Northern England and Scotland in offshore renewable energy, the future needs in innovation and the skilled workforce in the sector.

The audit looked at the offshore renewable energy sector at major ports in the North East, Tees Valley, Humber and Liverpool local enterprise partnership areas and Scotland.

Led by Newcastle University, the project saw collaboration between Scottish Enterprise, the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, four Local Enterprise Partnerships and Durham, Liverpool and Hull Universities.

The audits are sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Business Minister Lord Prior said,

The Science and Innovation Audits we are publishing today highlight the innovative strengths in regions across the UK and the significant growth and investment opportunities they present. Together with our record investment of an additional £4.7 billion for research and development to 2020/21, we are working closely with regional businesses and partners to ensure the ambitions set out in these reports are delivered to maintain our status as a science powerhouse.

Professor Nick Wright, PVC Innovation and Business, Newcastle University, said,

The SIA on offshore energy has confirmed that the North of England and Scotland together constitute a world-class cluster of activities in this crucial field. It was a great pleasure to see the wonderful progress being made across the board from offshore wind to wave and tidal energies and also see the future potential for this region. The report highlights some major opportunities for the cluster in terms of new technologies and we look forward to working with the Government to drive those forward.

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) was among those involved in the project. The subsea and offshore sector has been identified as one of four key areas of opportunity in its Strategic Economic Plan.

Andrew Hodgson, North East LEP chair, said,

The SIA was a fantastic collaboration between the organisations that came together to produce this important report. The North East is a world-leader in offshore and subsea technology. The region is one of six nationally designated Centres for Offshore Renewables Engineering. We’re delighted to have been a part of the audit, which has highlighted the globally-significant contribution the North and Scotland make to the UK through our strong offshore sector.

Dr Stephen Wyatt, Research & Innovation Director for ORE Catapult, said: “A strong science and research base in offshore renewable energy provides the support framework needed to allow UK businesses to flourish, creating jobs and economic benefit and attracting inward investment.

Our ambition is for the UK to become world-leaders in innovation in key technology areas. Our strengths in robotics, artificial intelligence and composite materials, as well as our subsea engineering expertise, can see us take a leading role in areas such as floating wind, and in developing wave and tidal technology. This report is vital in supporting the forthcoming offshore wind sector deal to Government and proves confidence in the future of our sector.