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New reports on North East economy reveal impact of COVID-19 and EU Exit

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership has published two new reports, one, an annual state of the region report and the other exploring the impact of COVID-19 and EU Exit on the North East economy.

The LEP’s annual Our Economy report has been published in two parts in 2021. The first report tracks the long term performance of the North East LEP economy across a range of key economic indicators and provides an overview of how it is changing over time.

It also includes an update on progress towards the North East LEP’s aim of bringing 100,000 more and better jobs to the region by 2024, and analysis of the impact of emerging policy priorities, like levelling up and decarbonisation, on the North East.

The second report provides a comprehensive and in-depth look at the national and regional data, research, insights and commentary that shows how COVID-19 and EU exit has impacted the regional economy. Drawing on a range of additional and innovative sources of data, ‘Our Economy: Insights into the impact of COVID-19 and EU transition on the North East Economy’ gathers intelligence on the impacts of the pandemic and EU exit on the North East economy from March 2020 to the current day.

Lucy Winskell OBE, Chair of the North East LEP, said: “This year, perhaps more than any other, developing our shared understanding of change in the regional economy is crucial.

“The work we have done to track, analyse and interpret data and evidence about the performance of our regional economy is central to our role at the North East LEP and a core part of the support we offer our partners.

“It is integral to our economic leadership, our influencing work with government, and underpins our investment decisions and stewardship of public funds, ensuring that regional programmes of delivery are targeted at addressing the key opportunities and challenges we face.”

The reports state that whilst the short-term impact of COVID-19 on the North East was highly disruptive and challenging, the region has continued to sustain increased levels of employment compared with its baseline in 2014, with continued growth of the proportion of better jobs – managers, directors and senior officials; professional occupations; and associate professional and technical occupations – in the region.

They also show the impact of COVID-19 on business and the labour market has been significant. Some sectors, including retail, culture and hospitality, have seen severe changes. Local, regional and national intervention has had an impact in protecting businesses and jobs, but the impact now many of these support measures have ended is unclear.

Inequalities within the region have been exacerbated by the pandemic too, with employers in many industries struggling with skills shortages.

The reports also include data showing that the region’s engagement with the global economy is changing, with the impact of EU Exit creating barriers to trade and the future trading environment still evolving.

Our Economy 2021 also looks at the performance of our programmes and sectors – which have been identified as areas of opportunity for the region, including health and life sciences, digital and energy.

Richard Baker, Strategy and Policy Director at the North East LEP explained: “The economic shock has accelerated a number of opportunities for the North East, with growth and new jobs in some of the key areas of strength and opportunity we have been focused on – in energy, life sciences and digital industries for example.

“Many firms across the economy have changed their operational models, with rapid deployment of digital technology, changing approaches to delivery of goods and services locally and growth in online exporting. There are genuine opportunities for the region to drive forward greener businesses and to drive productivity.”

The evidence provided by Our Economy is used to inform the work of the North East LEP and partners across the region in delivering the North East Strategic Economic Plan – the roadmap for increasing economic growth in the North East.

Our Economy 2021 is available to view on evidencehub.northeastlep.co.uk.

Our Economy: Insights into the impact of COVID-19 and EU transition on the North East Economy is also available to view on evidencehub.northeastlep.co.uk.

The North East Strategic Economic Plan can be read at northeastlep.co.uk.

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Local Growth Fund supports next phase of Newcastle Central Station transformation

The next phase of Newcastle Central Station’s multimillion pound transformation project is expected to begin in September following the appointment of North East construction company, Tolent, to lead the works.

Funded by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Local Growth Fund, the second phase of the Central Gateway project will see the creation of two new pedestrian/cycle entrances at Neville Street and Central Parkway, the creation of a new concourse within the station, and the pedestrianisation of Orchard Street.

Proposals for a new ‘smart’ taxi rank at the front of the station are under review to improve access and reduce congestion in the area.

£4m from the Local Growth Fund has been awarded to Newcastle City Council to deliver the works at Newcastle Central Station, which is managed by LNER.

Andrew Moffat CBE, Chair of North East LEP investment board, said: “The Local Growth Fund is designed to improve the quality of life for people living and working in the North East LEP region by investing in major capital projects that help create jobs and boost the local economy.

“The Central Gateway project is vital in ensuring Newcastle Central Station can accommodate growing passenger numbers, and the introduction of new lines and services in the future.

“Newcastle Central Station is one of the busiest transport hubs in the North East and the latest round of works will ensure people and goods can continue to travel fast and efficiently across our region, and the country.”

Michelle Percy, Director of Place at Newcastle City Council, said: “It’s great news that after all the consultation and permissions work is finally due to start at the Central Station.

“Creating new spaces, new entrances and a taxi pick-up point will open up the station which should act as a catalyst for further development at Stephenson Quarter, Forth Yards and Quayside West.

“It’s a fine example of how the city council, the North East LEP, LNER and Network Rail are working together to improve passenger experience at this attractive and busy gateway into our region.”

Claire Ansley, Director of Customer Experience at LNER, said: “Newcastle Central Station plays an important part in the city and wider region so we at LNER are very excited that the next phase of the transformation will soon begin. The enhancements being made will help further improve the station’s accessibility to the surrounding areas and provide an even more impressive welcome to customers travelling to the city.”

Paul Rutter, Route Director for Network Rail’s East Coast Route, said: “This is a crucial scheme which will really open up Newcastle Central station and transform how passengers move through the area.

“It’s great that we can now move on to the next phase of the project and we look forward to passengers reaping the benefits once complete.”

David Thompson, regional director for Tolent, said: “We’re delighted to have won this contract that is going to bring significant benefits to all those living and working in Newcastle city centre. Having completed previous works within similar live environments such as the refurbishment of Central Station and the iconic Haymarket Hub, our experienced teams are ready to start on site and we look forward to working with all partners to deliver another fantastic project for the city.”

This first phase of the Central Gateway project saw refurbishment inside and outside the station, a new glass portico with ticket machines and cafes, enhanced public space and pavement cafes in the area surrounding the station, improved cycling facilities and better public transport links.

Phase two of the project will improve connections to areas to the south of the station, including Stephenson Quarter, Forth Yards and development areas on the quayside, helping to promote investment and growth.

The Local Growth Fund has invested more than £270m in major capital projects across all seven North East LEP local authority areas since 2015. Projects include the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) in Sunderland and South Tyneside, The Biosphere life sciences building on Newcastle Helix, the South Shields bus and Metro Transport Interchange in South Tyneside, and The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre in Northumberland National Park.

This latest investment in Newcastle Central Station follows the £2.5m awarded from the Local Growth Fund towards the refurbishment of Newcastle Central Metro station in 2017.

The Local Growth Fund supports the delivery of the North East Strategic Economic Plan, which aims to grow a more productive, inclusive and sustainable North East economy and create 100,000 more and better jobs for the region.

All £270.1m from the Local Growth Fund has now been allocated in the North East LEP region, with all in-progress projects due to reach completion by 2024.

Projects supported through the Local Growth Fund help drive innovation, improve support for businesses, support economic inclusion, and either help develop skills infrastructure or enhance strategic transport sites and public transport infrastructure.

Find out more about the Local Growth Fund.

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Getting Building Fund support for new ‘green’ multi-storey car park on NewcastleGateshead Quays

A new multi-storey car park being built on the NewcastleGateshead Quays site in Gateshead is likely to be the most carbon-neutral car park in the region.

The 10-storey, 1,000 space car park – which is supported by funding from government’s Getting Building Fund – will have charging points for up to 50 electric cars but will be built with the infrastructure already in place to allow an additional 250 EV charging points to be retrofitted as demand increases.

Virtually all of the building’s energy needs will come from renewable sources generated within a stone’s throw of the site, with some electricity generated by the building itself using a series of photo-voltaic cells installed on the roof.

Additional electricity will be supplied by the nearby Council-owned District Energy Centre, which will shortly begin receiving power from a planned 2 mW solar farm to be built on land adjacent to the car park.

Andrew Moffat CBE, Chair of the Investment Board at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The North East is committed to creating a greener economy, and supporting businesses in all sectors to drive forward decarbonisation.

“The new multi-storey car park on NewcastleGateshead Quays is just one of the clean energy projects we’re supporting through the Getting Building Fund and Local Growth Fund. The region’s ongoing investment in green, sustainable energy has helped position the North East as one of the leading destinations in the world for advancements in areas like offshore wind and electrification.

“The UK government has set a target to reach net zero by 2050, and our region is ready to play a significant role in reaching that milestone.”

In addition to the multi-storey car park at NewcastleGateshead Quays, the North East LEP has also invested £600k from the Local Growth Fund to identify and create seven new electric vehicle charging points across the LEP area – including one in Gateshead. The investment reflects the need to roll out EV infrastructure across the North East, build back greener from the coronavirus pandemic, and support government’s green industrial revolution.

The NewcastleGateshead Quays car park will be linked directly to the A184 Felling bypass via a new road running through Baltic Quarter. The plans include a new Green Blue corridor, containing landscaped walking and cycling routes, and the provision of habitats that encourage biodiversity.

Wilmott Dixon has been awarded the contract to build the ‘green’ car park as part of the £260m arena-led regeneration scheme.

NewcastleGateshead Quays was awarded £7m from government’s Getting Building Fund to support the creation of the new events destination and link road.

Andrew continued: “The Getting Building Fund was created to provide investment to shovel-ready infrastructure projects across the country that will help boost regional economic growth, fuel local recovery and create jobs.

“NewcastleGateshead Quays is a hugely significant project not just for Gateshead, but the North East LEP region as a whole. The regeneration scheme is expected to create around 2,000 new jobs in the North East and provide a £60m annual boost to our local economy.”

The North East LEP area was awarded £47m through the Getting Building Fund, with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership increasing the fund to £55m by releasing an additional £8m from the North East Investment Fund.

The projects put forward for the North East LEP area are expected to create more than 4,000 construction and permanent jobs; unlock more than 19,000 sqm of commercial space; assist more than 3,000 learners; improve or construct 4.2km of roads, cycle lanes and walkways; and further strengthen the North East’s green energy sector.

The government’s £900m Getting Building Fund was announced in August 2020 as part of its package of support to kick-start the economy, create jobs and help areas facing the biggest economic challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

For more information about the Getting Building Fund, visit www.gov.uk.

For more information about the North East LEP, visit www.northeastlep.co.uk.

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How the Local Growth Fund helped North East businesses diversify during the coronavirus pandemic

In March 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic escalated in the UK, there soon became an immediate and urgent need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

To help meet demand, government encouraged companies up and down the country to pivot their businesses to manufacture and supply PPE.

To support businesses in the North East LEP region to join the national COVID-19 effort and produce Personal Protective Equipment, the North East LEP increased its budget from the Local Growth Fund to £1.9m to support the Supply Chain North East programme, which assists businesses to diversify their offering, expand their customer base and unlock untapped opportunities in new markets.

Businesses could apply for a capital grant to pivot their business and begin the manufacture and supply of PPE. In total, 32 businesses in the North East LEP area received funding.

They include County Durham-based IT company, Carbon8 Ltd. Following a significant reduction in sales as supply chains across the world were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, the company decided to pivot its business completely to produce medical grade face masks. In May 2020 John Murphy, Director of Carbon8 Ltd, contacted Supply Chain North East to discuss what support was available to develop a new business model to incorporate the production of face masks.

Working with testing agencies as well as Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), Carbon8 Ltd secured the required certification and accreditation and is now producing face masks to EN14683 IIR standards.

John Murphy, Director of Carbon8 Ltd, said: “I would definitely recommend Supply Chain North East to other businesses. The team were so helpful with the project and had excellent understanding of what I was trying to accomplish, and I really appreciated the suggestions that were given in relation to the business. At a very uncertain time, we were given other options to our business and now that we are in production, we are looking forward to increasing our production permanently with the help received.”

Another County Durham-based business, Newton Press, used LGF capital funding from Supply Chain North East to diversify its business to produce PPE screen guards for local businesses, the NHS and care homes.

The family-run publishing and printing business saw a sudden loss in demand for its products and services and chose to diversify in response to the coronavirus pandemic. After speaking to Supply Chain North East, Newton Press was able to access the funds to upgrade and recalibrate its equipment to produce a range of screen guards that met the individual needs and preferences of businesses. Its existing print facilities meant the company was able to offer clients the ability to brand screen guards with logos or instructions.

Stuart Howarth, Director of Newton Press, said: “We are very grateful to Supply Chain North East for the support to upgrade our equipment. It has played a major part in recovering sales and moving forward.”

Rocket Medical, an award-winning designer and manufacturer of single use medical devices based in Washington, Sunderland, was awarded LGF capital grant funding through Supply Chain North East to acquire and install new machinery to improve the speed, quality, accuracy of its production. The company produces a number of devices that are essential for the NHS’s COVID-19 response, resulting in a huge rise in demand.

Alan Hewett, Supply Chain North East Business Advisor at RTC North, said: “It was fantastic to be able to support Rocket Medical in this crucial time and assist their acquirement of additional equipment to automate a process and alleviate a ‘bottle neck’, which has helped the business to meet the demand posed by the COVID-19 situation in support of the healthcare sector.”

Andrew Moffat CBE, Chair of the Innovation Board at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic there was a huge amount of uncertainty, and businesses across our region were preparing for the worst. Many saw an immediate negative impact as supply chains were disrupted globally.

“The decision to invest further in Supply Chain North East and assist businesses to diversify their offering was in direct response to this. The Local Growth Fund supports the delivery of the North East Strategic Economic Plan, which aims to grow a more productive, inclusive and sustainable North East economy and create 100,000 more and better jobs for the region. By helping businesses pivot to manufacture and supply PPE we were able to protect, and in some cases, create new jobs.

“The investment from the Local Growth Fund has supported 32 businesses to continue trading and, importantly, create a new revenue stream that is contributing to the North East’s economic recovery.”

The Local Growth Fund has invested more than £270m in major capital projects across all seven North East LEP local authority areas since 2015. Projects include the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) in Sunderland and South Tyneside, The Biosphere life sciences building on Newcastle Helix, the South Shields bus and Metro Transport Interchange in South Tyneside, and The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre in Northumberland National Park.

The Local Growth Fund supports the delivery of the North East Strategic Economic Plan, which aims to grow a more productive, inclusive and sustainable North East economy and create 100,000 more and better jobs for the region.

All £270.1m from the Local Growth Fund has now been allocated in the North East LEP region, with all in-progress projects due to reach completion by 2024.

Projects supported through the Local Growth Fund help drive innovation, improve support for businesses, support economic inclusion, and either help develop skills infrastructure or enhance strategic transport sites and public transport infrastructure.

To find out more about the Local Growth Fund, visit https://www.northeastlep.co.uk/funding.

To find out more about Supply Chain North East, visit www.supplychainnortheast.co.uk.

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In conversation with Andrew Moffat CBE, Chair of the North East LEP’s Investment Board, about the LEP’s annual review and the role investment has played in supporting the region’s economic recovery from COVID-19

In a period of uncertainty, it’s easy to get sidetracked. But over the last couple of years, the North East LEP has been able to maintain its longer-term strategic plan, while providing businesses and organisations with the support they need to keep moving.

In August 2020, the Government announced a fund investing £1.3bn into homes, infrastructure and jobs.

The Getting Building Fund looked to deliver up to 45,000 homes, create 85,000 jobs and boost skills and infrastructure nationwide. The North East LEP received £47m from government, which it topped up with a further £8m.

Over the next eight months, it moved quickly to arrange investment into 16 projects, which are anticipated to be well on the way to completion by spring 2022. These include the NUCASTLE facility for accessible learning and recreation, and the new South Tyneside Council Glassworks office development.

The North East LEP has a track record of supporting the right schemes in a timely manner. Andrew Moffat CBE chair of its Investment Board says that “when the government allocates funds to us – we spend them, in the time they require, and spend them effectively. They have confidence that we’ll deliver, and therefore next time, they might give us more.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve looked at where the gaps are in government funding, and tried to help. This includes a supply chain initiative for PPE, and an Innovation Challenge supporting businesses who are solving COVID-related problems. We also launched a crowdfunder scheme, which invested £471,000 into local small and micro businesses with the help of our generous community whose contributions we matched.

“As businesses bounce back, we’ll be looking to give them the support they need. We’ve called on government to back our ambitious £2.8bn Recovery and Renewal Deal, helping us build a greener, more innovative and resilient economy. We’re also providing direct support to businesses, through our investment programmes, and our Growth Hub support.

“COVID-19 has required us to collaborate and listen more than ever. We’ve acted quickly and decisively, and I’m really proud of the work our whole team has done. But we’re still carrying on with the work we’ve been doing for nearly a decade. We’re still committed to our Strategic Economic Plan, which aims to create 100,000 more and better jobs for the region.

“So far, the LEP has secured over a billion pounds in funding which in turn has secured more than another £1.6 billion of private sector investment in the region. We’re continuing to build on our strengths in Advanced Manufacturing, Energy, Health and Life Sciences and Digital. Our Local Growth Fund has distributed £270m over six years to strategic capital projects, while our Enterprise Zone funding has invested £65m, with a further £100m forecast by 2025.

“We’re also always looking at what’s happening globally, identifying which and how sectors are growing and evolving. Because, when opportunities arise, we want to support the region in harnessing them. We seek to make the necessary investments to ensure we’re prepared, whether that’s getting a brownfield site ready for development, or working with an investor or company to seize market opportunities.

“There are many examples where this strategy is already bearing fruit. The International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) is a great example. The NewcastleGateshead Quays project is nearly off the blocks, and we’re working closely to support the redevelopment at Port of Blyth – as well as assisting other ports and operators in the region.

“We’re not alone. We’re working with many partners from all over the region to make the right choices to help the North East economy grow and thrive. Together, we have gained a fantastic reputation that includes a track record of delivery, whilst at the same time our strategic approach has allowed us to be on the front foot, and always ready for the next opportunity to gain access to government funding and help deliver real economic benefit to the region.”

Andrew Moffat CBE is the Chair of the North East LEP’s Investment Board.

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NewcastleGateshead Quays regeneration scheme awarded £7m from government’s Getting Building Fund

NewcastleGateshead Quays – the landmark arena-led regeneration scheme on the banks of the NewcastleGateshead quayside – has been awarded £7m from government’s Getting Building Fund to support the creation of the new events destination and a new link road connecting Baltic Quarter with the A184 and Felling Bypass.

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) manages the Getting Building Fund in the North East LEP area, which comprises Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland. The North East LEP Investment Board approved Gateshead Council’s funding application in December 2020.

Andrew Moffat CBE, Chair of the Investment Board at the North East LEP, said: “The Getting Building Fund was created to provide investment to shovel-ready infrastructure projects across the country that will help boost regional economic growth, fuel local recovery and create jobs.

“NewcastleGateshead Quays is a hugely significant project not just for Gateshead, but the North East LEP region as a whole. The £290m regeneration scheme is expected to create around 2,000 new jobs in the North East and provide a £60m annual boost to our local economy.”

£5m from the Getting Building Fund has been awarded towards the creation of a new North South link road in Baltic Quarter. The new road will connect Gateshead Quays with the A184 and Quarryfield Road, leading to the Felling Bypass and across to the Freight Depot strategic housing site. The plans also include a new Green Blue corridor, containing new landscaped walking and cycling routes, and the provision of habitats that encourage biodiversity.

A further £2m has been awarded towards critical infrastructure works around the construction of the new arena, exhibition and conference centre, hotels, multi-storey car park, and public spaces.

The planned Arena and Conference and Exhibition Centre project has previously been awarded £5m through the Local Growth Fund in 2017.

Cllr Martin Gannon, Leader, Gateshead Council said: “A lot of time, hard work and commitment has been put into producing a plan for the growth and prosperity of Gateshead and the region. These funds will be vital in achieving our ambitions for the wider Quays project and borough as a whole. We are aiming to future proof Gateshead and improve connectivity and infrastructure. This investment will go some way to realising those plans and help attract leisure and business visitors to the North East.”

The North East LEP region was awarded £47m through the Getting Building Fund with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership increasing the fund to £55m by releasing an additional £8m from the North East Investment Fund.

The 17 projects put forward for the North East LEP area are expected to create more than 4,000 construction and permanent jobs; unlock more than 19,000 sqm of commercial space; assist more than 3,000 learners; improve or construct 4.2km of roads, cycle lanes and walkways; and further strengthen the North East’s green energy sector.

The government’s £900m Getting Building Fund was announced in August 2020 as part of its package of support to kick-start the economy, create jobs and help areas facing the biggest economic challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

For more information about the Getting Building Fund, visit www.gov.uk.

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Investment in sites unlocks up to 4,000 new jobs in the North East

Across the North East, work is underway to transform land into top quality locations for businesses and bring more skilled jobs to the region. Ben McLaughlin, Programme Manager at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), explains how.

Since 2013, more than 1,600 jobs have been created in the North East, and it’s estimated that 2,400 more will be added over the next two years, thanks to investment by the North East LEP and partners in the region’s network of Enterprise Zone sites.

Over £166 million is expected to be invested by the North East LEP in these high quality development sites by 2025, in order to support the creation of more and better jobs in key sectors for the North East, including the automotive industry, offshore and subsea, and the energy sector.

Enterprise Zones are previously under-utilised sites which are made ready for businesses by investing in key infrastructure such as road links, utilities and digital connectivity – getting them investment-ready so to speak. They’re situated in some of the most desirable locations in our region, with excellent access to transport links, quayside locations, and proximity to ready-made supply chains which mean that investors can hit the ground running.

Here in the North East, we have more than 300 hectares of land that’s earmarked as Enterprise Zones and since 2013, we’ve seen these sites take shape, and businesses start to reap the benefits of moving into first-class office spaces and manufacturing sites.

The locations of our Enterprise Zones are also closely aligned to some of the areas of strategic importance which are named in the North East Strategic Economic Plan, including the advanced manufacturing and energy sectors.

In Sunderland for example, the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) is located north of the Nissan manufacturing plant, and provides a world-class, shovel-ready site for advanced manufacturing businesses. Follingsby Park North in Gateshead and Jade Business Park in Durham have also recently become home to manufacturing companies.

Around the banks of the River Tyne, the Neptune Energy Park in Newcastle has attracted a group of businesses operating in the subsea and offshore sectors, and the Holborn 2 in the Port of Tyne will soon be home to operations and maintenance activities for the Dogger Bank offshore development. Similarly, around the Blyth Estuary, Enterprise Zone sites at the Port of Blyth Bates Terminal and at Northumberland Energy Park will provide ideal space for emerging opportunities in the offshore and subsea sectors.

The Enterprise Zones have also supported high quality office developments close to Newcastle Airport, in the centre of Blyth and at the Centre for Innovation (CFI) building on the former Swan Hunters site in North Tyneside. There are further plans for more office space to be created on sites such as Holborn in South Tyneside.

Not only will jobs be created as businesses move into the new Enterprise Zones sites, but hundreds of people have already been employed in the construction industry, putting in the required buildings and infrastructure, readying the sites for their new tenants.

These sites are playing a critical role in supporting the North East’s economic growth, and they’re also bringing back to life former industrial areas, like power stations and shipyards; making them ready for today’s businesses and tomorrow’s innovators.

Find out more about the North East’s Enterprise Zones here.

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£3 million funding awarded to Northumberland robotics test site

Funding has been awarded to support the creation of a new test site for emerging robotics technology in Northumberland, which is set to be the first centre of its type in the UK.

The Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) Test Site, which is being developed by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult in Blyth, has been awarded £3 million from the government’s Getting Building Fund, which is managed in the region by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Gillian Hall, Chair of the North East LEP Innovation Board, said: “This new test site will put the North East at the centre of robotics innovation for the offshore industry, helping to develop new technologies which have the potential to be used worldwide.

“The Getting Building Fund is there to create new jobs and help the economy recover from the impact of the pandemic, and this project will brings jobs and investment to the region, helping to build a stronger, more sustainable North East.”

Matthew Hadden, Deputy Head of Delivery at ORE Catapult, said: “As the offshore renewable sector continues to grow, some of the largest costs are carrying out inspections, maintenance and installation activities offshore. It’s expensive and potentially dangerous.

“There’s a role for robotics to play in improving these processes and a real drive within the industry to adopt this new technology over the next five to 10 years – our aim is to support and accelerate innovation in robotics here in the North East, and see it in action in UK waters.”

The RAS Test Site will accelerate the demonstration, testing and evaluation of new technologies and will also provide links with ORE Catapult’s team of experts in research, innovation and operational maintenance.

The centre will be equipped with both onshore and offshore demonstration facilities, helping SMEs, universities and other developers of new technologies to develop new products and bring them to market.

“We have an incredibly strong offshore and subsea energy sector in the North East, particularly in oil and gas, and the RAS Test Site will play a big role in our ability to support the transition to renewables. This funding from the Getting Building Fund is vital in bringing forward new technologies developed in the North East,” added Matthew.

The North East LEP region was awarded £47m through the Getting Building Fund with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership increasing the fund to £55m by releasing an additional £8m from the North East Investment Fund.

The 17 projects put forward for the North East LEP area are expected to create more than 4,000 construction and permanent jobs; unlock more than 19,000 sqm of commercial space; assist more than 3,000 learners; improve or construct 4.2km of roads, cycle lanes and walkways; and further strengthen the North East’s green energy sector.

The government’s £900m Getting Building Fund was announced in August 2020 to provide investment in shovel-ready infrastructure projects across the country.

For more information about the Getting Building Fund, visit www.gov.uk.

Image: BladeBUG is one such repair and maintenance robot making leaps in offshore robotics capabilities. Image courtesy of BladeBUG.

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South Tyneside Council awarded £3m from government to support The Glassworks office development

South Tyneside Council has been awarded £3m from government’s Getting Building Fund to support the creation of a proposed state of the art, glass-fronted riverside office building in the town.

The Glassworks – subject to planning permission – will be built on former brownfield land in the Harton Quay area of South Shields and provide 50,000 sq ft of Grade A office accommodation. It will aim to be one of the first near-net carbon zero office buildings in the North East.

The Getting Building Fund – managed in the region by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership – is part of government’s package of financial support to kick-start the economy, create jobs and help areas facing the biggest economic challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Helen Golightly, Chief Executive of the North East LEP, said: “The Glassworks will be an important new development by South Tyneside Council and an excellent example of the type of project the region needs to help support our recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the increase in people working from home because of COVID-19, there is still demand for quality and affordable office accommodation in the region.

“The scheme will build on recent North East LEP investments in the town, including the new South Shields Transport Interchange and Nexus Learning Centre.

“The Getting Building Fund is designed to get major infrastructure projects moving quickly, so we can start to see our economy and employment rates return to pre-COVID levels.”

Spread over five storeys, The Glassworks will form part of the new living, working and cultural quarter in Harton Quay, and link to South Shields’ town centre.

Cllr Tracey Dixon, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: “We’re delighted to have secured this funding through the Government’s Getting Building Fund.

“We hope that The Glassworks will start the transformation of a vacant site into a bustling quarter, attracting new businesses to the town and helping to generate jobs for local people.

“It would be another milestone in our ambitions for South Shields and complement the considerable investment that has already gone into this area.”

The North East LEP region was awarded £47m through the Getting Building Fund with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership increasing the fund to £55m by releasing an additional £8m from the North East Investment Fund.

The 18 projects put forward for the North East LEP area are expected to create more than 4,000 construction and permanent jobs; unlock more than 19,000 sqm of commercial space; assist more than 3,000 learners; improve or construct 4.2km of roads, cycle lanes and walkways; and further strengthen the North East’s green energy sector.

The government’s £900m Getting Building Fund was announced in August 2020 to provide investment in shovel-ready infrastructure projects across the country.

For more information about the Getting Building Fund, visit www.gov.uk.