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Business leaders recruited to new North East Business Support Board

Business leaders from across the region have been recruited to form a new North East Business Support Board that will help propel the enterprise partnership’s Strategic Economic Plan .

The North East LEP has announced that the Business Support Board will be co-chaired by LEP board members Gill Southern and Paul Varley.

The eight leading business figures from key sectors across the North East appointed to the Business Support Board are:

  • John Barnett, operations director and vice president of Nissan Tier 1 supplier Calsonic Kansei
  • Rob Earnshaw, artistic director of the National Youth Film Academy and managing director of Creative North and the Youth Training Academy
  • James Hall, business development director at facilities management firm Cofely
  • Julian Leighton, director of creative agency Orange Bus
  • Paul McEldon, chief executive of the North East Business and Innovation Centre
  • Ammar Mirza CBE, director of business consultancy AmmarM (UK) Ltd and the business network Asian Business Connexions
  • Alison Thompson, director of Ashmore Consulting Ltd and previously the Northern Rock Building Society
  • Neil Warwick, partner at law firm Bond Dickinson.

The North East Combined Authority is represented by Cllr Paul Watson, and government agencies are represented by Tom Smyth, deputy area director of BIS Yorkshire, Humber and the North East. Nominations are being sought through the LEP Board for three key individuals to represent the region’s universities, further education and the North East’s LEP’s Innovation Board.

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Building a stronger future together

The success of long term economic growth for the North East will be driven and delivered by businesses and organisations working together to achieve a common goal.

Building up strong relationships and networks across sectors and industries is essential to achieving this. Together we can work to make sure the North East is known globally as a hub for open innovation, with the right skills and opportunities for our young people, to build successful businesses backed by world-class support and infrastructure. Developing excellent and responsive communications is an important part of this journey.

We are delighted to launch the new North East LEP website. The new site provides the opportunity for everyone to find out more about how we are working to deliver more and better jobs for the North East. By creating a clear, accessible and comprehensive website, we are able to show the breadth of work that the North East LEP is working on to tackle the skills gap, bring investment and better support for businesses to the area and drive forward a new era in innovation.

This is just phase one though – over the coming months we will continue to develop the site. It will also include a new apprenticeship site to support businesses and individuals create and secure more apprenticeships and a new growth hub for the North East, which will provide a comprehensive directory of local business support.

Through better communications we can continue to strengthen our partnerships and deliver the Economic Plan – together we can achieve a stronger future for the North East.

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£160m North East investment announces senior appointment

Work has now started so that a new £160m JEREMIE2 venture capital fund will be open for business from 2016 to provide major new investment fuelling the growth of North East businesses.

The fund, which is being developed in a unique collaboration for businesses across the region by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and Tees Valley Unlimited LEP, has unveiled Estelle Blanks as its full time Deputy Project Director. Estelle was most recently Deputy Director of the Newcastle Science City initiative.

The new programme will provide funding for growing businesses in both local enterprise partnership areas and will expand the work of the original JEREMIE fund, which has been hailed as England’s most successful regional investment fund.

Launched in 2010, JEREMIE1 has invested nearly £110m to date in 650 North East companies and secured more than £120m in investment from the private sector. Funding from the programme was instrumental in the development of Durham University spin-off Applied Graphene Materials, which was floated on the AIM last year and is now valued at £70m.

Estelle, who takes up her new role this month, said: “JEREMIE2 will build on the work of the original fund, which has provided much-needed investment for businesses across both Local Enterprise Partnership areas over the past four years. In addition it will have created 5,000 jobs and safeguarded a further 2,800 posts by the end of this year.

“Confirmation that JEREMIE2 will continue this vital financial support through loans and equity investments is hugely exciting. I am now working with the two LEPs, the project team and project board to plan for a seamless transition between the current and the new JEREMIE funds.”

The current fund provides investment through seven different funds targeting firms across a range of sectors from high growth potential start-ups to larger businesses that need cash for further development.

It is envisaged that JEREMIE2 will bring together EU structural funds, legacy returns from earlier regional schemes and financing from the European Investment Bank. Development costs for the new fund are being part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and through funding from historical legacies built up as a result of the success of previous investment initiatives in the region.

By working together, the two LEPS will be able to ensure more funding is available for businesses to increase growth and secure economic prosperity in the two LEP areas of the North East.

Paul Woolston, chair of the North East LEP, said: “Working with our colleagues at Tees Valley LEP means we will be able to promote the funding available through JEREMIE2 to businesses across the region.
“The first JEREMIE fund has made an enormous difference to the North East economy and we’re delighted the Government and the European Investment Bank are supportive of our vision to use the new fund as part of our plans to bring further growth to the region.”

Sandy Anderson, chair of Tees Valley Unlimited, said: “The JEREMIE 2 programme now has real momentum and we are committed to working with our colleagues at the North East LEP to deliver a new investment programme which will benefit growth businesses here in the Tees Valley.”

Representatives from the two enterprise partnerships and Government form part of the high-level Project Board which is working to ensure JEREMIE2 is ready to launch in 2016.

Project team leader, Andrew Mitchell, said: “This is a really important project for the two LEP areas. “We need to ensure that entrepreneurs and ambitious businesses from the Tees to the Tweed can continue to get the investment their businesses need, once the current programme comes to a close at the end of 2015.

“This is a hugely complex development and Estelle will bring the project management skills we need to ensure that we are ready to launch at the beginning of 2016.”

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New Digital Catapult Centre Announced

The Digital Catapult has today announced intention to appoint a LEP-led consortia in the North East to support national digital economy drive.

Due to open in March 2015, the Digital Catapult Centre North East & Tees Valley will be located in Sunderland and will provide a physical space for start-ups and small businesses in the creative and technology sectors to develop and showcase their digital ideas and products. They will also be able to use it to connect and collaborate with larger businesses, universities and public sector organisations.

With a united aim of generating thousands of new jobs, driving innovation at a local level and creating millions in linked investment and future funding by 2025, the three local centres will support the London King’s Cross Digital Catapult Centre which was opened today by Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for the Digital Economy.

The Digital Catapult Centre North East & Tees Valley will host a high bandwidth connection linking it with two additional centres planned for Brighton and Bradfordand also with the Digital Catapult Centre London.

The North East based consortia led by the North East LEP and Tees Valley LEP was selected following an open call for partners in July 2014 andchosen from 17 LEP and local consortia bids involving more than 50 business, local authority, SME and university partners (1).

The project will be led by Sunderland Software City on behalf the North East LEP and Tees Valley Unlimited. The consortia will focus specifically on the controlled delivery and security of data so as to increase information sharing amongst businesses and organisations and to open up new business models and revenue streams. Other key partners involved include Newcastle University, Durham University, Northumbria University, University of Sunderland and Teesside University.

Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for the Digital Economy said “It is an exciting time to be a tech business in the UK. Our digital economy is already one of the strongest markets in the world, valued at more than £100 billion. Growth areas including the Internet of Things and digital creative industries are opening up a range of new opportunities for companies in the sector.

“The new Digital Catapult Centre will provide a thriving, state-of-the-art hub for some of the country’s most innovative digital companies and entrepreneurs.”

Activity will run until March 2018, and the consortia will also be tasked with

  • Initiating and collaborating with the Digital Catapult on a range of innovative projects, designed to be accessible to start-up and SME businesses to use and learn from.
  • Creating links between universities and the local business community and networks that enable university led R&D in the Digital Catapult challenge areas to be converted into commercial market opportunities which can be prototyped and piloted by start-ups and SMEs.
  • Helping to develop the higher level skills needed to realise and exploit new data and media capabilities.

Paul Woolston, said, “The North East has a growing reputation as a hub for the digital economy in the UK. With almost 2000 businesses in the sector, including some of the most creative in the sector, a host of global brands, and the highest rate of start up outside of London and South East, this is a part of our economy which we know can contribute significantly to our plans to deliver more and better jobs.”

“The decision of the Digital Catapult to locate this centre in the North East and Tees Valley is hugely welcome. It is national acknowledgment of our current strong profile and future potential. And it means that the North East and Tees Valley will be at the forefront of a national project to break down barriers in data sharing between businesses. This will create a unique opportunity for North East businesses to be at the forefront of innovation in this area, with the potential for new business models and sources of growth for the sector as a whole to be led from our region.”

Sandy Anderson, Chairman of Tees Valley Unlimited, the LEP for Tees Valley, said: “Rapid innovation and digital technology have the potential to help diversify and transform the industrial landscape in Tees Valley.It is fantastic and exciting news for Tees Valley and the North East that we have been appointed to help strengthen the reach of this important sector.

“Being selected to help drive the digital revolution in our region will ensure that firms and entrepreneurs are able to capitalise on emerging opportunities with the Digital Catapult empowering us with the means, support and knowledge to bring ideas to fruition more speedily and effectively.”

Chris Thompson, Partnerships Director at the Digital Catapult said: “The North East consortia demonstrated a long-term commitment to supporting business creation, growth and economic impact through data-led innovation. They also clearly presented how the Catapult could add significant value to their broader local initiatives and link in with existing university, EU, national and regional funding sources. We hope to work closely with them in the next three years to encourage some truly disruptive innovations.”

The Digital Catapult initially will support the LEPs with resources and collaborative support of up to £500,000. This includes the cost of setting up the local Digital Catapult centre, costs for developing and delivering projects agreed and aligned with the Catapult’s focus areas and for use of Catapult resources to support engagement and initiatives.

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Growth hub on lookout for leaders

BUSINESS LEADERS are being sought to help inform and lead a key component of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Strategic Economic Plan.

The North East LEP is looking for passionate, well-connected businesspeople from across the region to join its Business Support Board, which will lead the formation of the new North East ‘Growth Hub’ which aims to transform access to business support in the North East.

As part of the its wider North East Business Support Programme, the North East LEP is currently developing the digital Growth Hub which will act as a conduit for business support and funding providers in the region.

The Hub will provide a single point of reference for entrepreneurs and businesses seeking support, advice and finance to help them grow.

Now the North East LEP is looking for representation from across sectors to form the Business Support Board, to helpshape the development of the Hub which is scheduled to launch on April 1, 2015.

Up to eight business leaders from across the region will be required to commit an estimated two days every quarter over the next three years.

The Business Support Board will comprise business leaders and members of the North East LEP Board, and will oversee and advise on programme implementation and development.

North East LEP Board member, Paul Varley, explained: “Our ambition is clear. We will help businesses find and utilise the right information, expert advice and finance to thrive and grow.

“The Business Support Programmeis an essential part of the North East Strategic Economic Plan. It provides the framework for an investment of over £200m in access to finance and business support over six years.

“This investment will increase profitability, wages and employment across the economy. Specifically, we will invest over £40m in developing the business support offer, ensuring that the support services and products on offer meet the needs of business.

North East LEP Board member, Gill Southern added: “The North East Growth Hub is at the heart of this growth programme. The hub will make it easy for businesses to find the right support at the right time for the right results. Created for business and lead by business, the highly networked digital hub will drive growth, productivity and trade, ultimately creating more and better jobs in the North East.”

The deadline to apply for the unpaid Business Support Board positions is Friday October 10 2014. Those interested should contact Dinah Jackson or download the application pack.

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West Chirton prepares to welcome first tenants

Work on North Tyneside’s first speculative business park since the credit crunch has been completed and developers expect to announce the first tenants in the next few weeks.

The Hellens Group’s £2.6 million West Chirton development near the A19, known as Elm Park, was funded by a £460,000 loan from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) North East Investment Fund, £1.1m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the company’s own money.

Comprising 17 units, the 34,000 sq ft of high quality business space is expected to create or safeguard 68 jobs when it is fully occupied.

Hellens Group chief executive Gavin Cordwell-Smith said: “We’ve received significantly more interest that we expected. We tend to find that businesses like to see units completed before committing themselves but we’ve had a number of viewings already and are discussing terms with a number of parties.’

“The units are primarily aimed at small and medium sized businesses and we’re hoping to attract manufacturers, possibly those working in the offshore field. There are a number of large contracts underway along the Tyne and we’re hoping we’ll be able to tap into the supply chain.

“There’s very little available of this quality and no developments have been built in North Tyneside for a number of years. From the interest we’ve received, there is significant demand.”

Hellens also completed the second phase of the Teal Farm business park development at Washington in February. The first part was completed in 2008 and let during the recession but there was no bank finance available for the second phase.

The £1.2 million for development of the four units was funded through a £200,000 Growing Places Fund loan from the North East LEP and a £680,000 grant from the ERDF. Teal Farm is now 50 per cent let and Mr Cordwell-Smith is confident the units will be fully occupied by the end of the year.

“We hope Teal Farm’s success will be emulated by Elm Park, West Chirton,” he said. “The level of enquiries has been significantly higher than at Teal Farm, which suggests it will be.”

Hellens already owned the West Chirton site near the Silverlink roundabout and the Tyne Tunnel, but like Teal Farm, the project was put on hold for a number of years because of the recession and the lack of available funding for speculative projects.

Mr Cordwell-Smith said: “We were hoping to develop the units sooner but due to the lack of bank finance progress stalled. Without the ERDF grant funding and the loan from the North East LEP we wouldn’t have been able to develop it.

“The North East LEP loan was really straightforward. The staff and consultants were very thorough in terms of due diligence.’

The North East LEP manages the North East Investment Fund, including Growing Places Fund and Regional Growth Fund contributions. Money from the fund is reinvested to supply future loans for developments aiming to improve the region’s economy.

Paul Varley of the North East LEP’s investment panel, said: “We are delighted that the West Chirton project is on course to welcome its first tenants and create more employment for the region.

“The demand being experienced by West Chirton and Teal Farm developments shows the need for new high quality business space in the North East and is an excellent indicator of improvements in the region’s economy

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£290m Growth Deal for North East

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership has secured £290m investment which will create thousands of new jobs for the North East.

The investment is part of the government’s Growth Deal, which was announced today (Monday 7 July), and provides the North East with a significant funding to take forward its plans for economic growth.

The substantial investment which will create over 4,000 new jobs and deliver £90m in additional public and private sector funding, is clear recognition from government of the North East’s ability to work in partnership and achieve its ambitious plans.

The £290m, which is the third highest allocation in the country, will support projects that were set out in the LEP’s North East Strategic Economic Plan ‘More and Better Jobs’. The plan, which builds on from Lord Adonis’s North East Independent Economic Review and was developed with local partners and businesses, provides a comprehensive plan to create sustainable and inclusive growth for the North East.

The North East’s Growth Deal will provide funding for each of the themes within the economic plan investing in projects around innovation, skills, business support, transport, developing economic assets and supporting inclusive growth.

On top of the investment the deal also includes a commitment from government to work with the enterprise partnership to bring forward plans around improving educational attainment and developing a new development and infrastructure fund for the North East.

The key features of the Growth Deal for the North East LEP are:

More jobs:

Investment in economic assets and transport: Funding for a comprehensive package of investment to ensure the North East has the infrastructure and facilities to support inward investment and regional growth. For example allowing companies involved in supplying Hitachi Rail Europe to locate close to its new facilities at Merchant Park, and a project to create rural ‘enterprise hubs’ proving flexible workspace for small businesses.

Better jobs:

Investment in innovation:
Funding for a number of projects to support technological advances in key industries, helping the North East achieve its innovation vision and become an exemplar in Smart Specialisation and open innovation. For example, Sunderland Enterprise and Innovation Hub, which will provide the first ‘Fab Lab’ in the North East.

Investment Skills:

Funding and commitment to support improving educational attainment and training available to local people in skills which are important for growing sectors including advanced manufacturing, offshore wind and low carbon energy technologies.

Paul Woolston, Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership said: “Our economic plan ‘more and better jobs’ set an ambitious vision for the North East, to transform the economy and create more and better jobs. We are delighted that government is supporting our proposals with such a significant investment.

“Our £290m Growth Deal endorses our approach providing investment for innovation, skills, business support, transport, developing our economic assets and supporting inclusive growth. It also sets out a clear commitment to work closely with the enterprise partnership to bring forward proposals around improving educational attainment and a new development and investment fund.

“The deal will act as a catalyst to lever in substantial private and public investment. It builds on the great work that is already happening across the North East and will create more and better jobs for everyone through making, trading and innovating to provide sustainable and long term growth.

“It marks the beginning of an exciting journey for the North East, and I’m looking forward to working with our partners and government to make it happen.”

Simon Henig, Chair of the North East Combined Authority and Vice Chair of the North East LEP said: “Our successful bids to the Single Local Growth Fund are a massive vote of confidence in the North East and will potentially mean a major boost to the region’s economy. The projects will not only increase job prospects across the North East but also improve transport links to make sure that people are able to take advantage of them. The multi-million pound package of investments could bring thousands of additional permanent jobs to the region, boosting our economy for years to come.”

Andrew Hodgson, North East LEP Vice Chair and Board member lead for skills said: “The Strategic Economic Plan clearly demonstrated the essential role skills plays in driving forward long term economic growth. At the enterprise partnership we have placed the focus firmly on skills from the outset and it’s great that the Growth Deal is supporting our position.

“The business community now has a central role to play in ensuring we achieve our vision. Business leaders and our partners have already demonstrated their commitment to take forward these plans and now the Deal will provide an essential resource to help deliver them.

“At the heart of our proposals is a partnership of schools, local education authorities and businesses with a commitment to build on the recommendations of the North East Independent Economic Review to improve educational attainment across our schools. The growth deal support is the deal-maker to give it the mandate to deliver change.”

Roy Sandbach, North East LEP Innovation Champion said: “It is fantastic news that these projects have been supported through the Local Growth Fund. At the heart of our Economic Plan, the Enterprise Partnership is aiming to facilitate highly effective innovation activity by building our innovation hubs, supporting innovation-centric businesses, small and large and by providing the type of environment which can attract innovation opportunities and investments from across the globe. These 5 new developments will add considerably to our capacity to deliver this.”

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Connect with HS2 contract opportunities

The High Speed Rail team is visiting the North East on Tuesday 29 April from 12pm to 3pm to explain how local companies can profit from winning HS2 related contracts.

HS2 Ltd has teamed up with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership to host an event at Durham County Cricket Club aimed at suppliers interested in bidding for HS2 contracts.

A number of free places are still available to book. The HS2 Market Engagement event will give businesses the opportunity to find out more about HS2’s outline procurement strategy and offer the opportunity to talk to individual team members and ask questions face-to-face.

The event will begin with a networking lunch, followed by presentations from the HS2 procurement team. There will then be a chance for individual discussions with team members.

This event will appeal to businesses interested in bidding for HS2 related contracts in categories such as tunnels, surface routes, stations, enabling works (including demolition), railway systems, design services, rolling stock, depots and signalling.

Paul Woolston, chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership said:
“This is a great opportunity for local businesses to find out how they can benefit from HS2, and meet the people handling procurement for this £42 billion project. The potential for contract opportunities is significant. I hope as many regional businesses as possible come along to talk to the HS2 team in Durham.”

HS2 Ltd Commercial Director, Beth West said:
“HS2 will generate billions of pounds worth of contracts, giving businesses large and small across the UK the opportunity to bid for work during the construction and operation of HS2.

“We are also keen to work with businesses who are not traditionally involved in the rail sector. These can bring best practice techniques and products to ensure the delivery of HS2. We look forward to engaging with businesses early on in the process and we would like to encourage them to engage with us too.”

To attend or email [email protected]

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Official opening of essential business space

ESSENTIAL new business space was officially opening this week, creating jobs and stimulating business growth in Washington following joined up investment of European and local regeneration funding.

Hellens Investments (Washington) LLP received over £500,000 investment from the European Regional Development Fund Competitiveness Programme 2007- 2013, which is managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government with match funding being provided by the company and loans from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Investment Fund, which includes the Growing Places Fund.

Teal Farm Park Phase II development at Washington comprises four units built to BREEAM very good standard ranging from 4 – 7,000 square feet designed for manufacturing or distribution enterprises and for start up and move on businesses. The scheme supported more than 100 construction jobs and is expected to lead to 124 jobs when the units are occupied.

To mark the official opening Cllr Neil Foster, Deputy Chair of the North East ERDF Local Management Committee, Cllr Paul Watson, North East LEP board member and Leader of Sunderland City Council and Gavin Cordwell-Smith, Chief Executive of Hellens Group will be present for the official handover of the units.

Cllr Neil Foster, Deputy Chair of the North East ERDF Local Management Committee, which engages key partners in the overseeing of the strategic delivery of the Programme in the North East said:
“Following the approval of ERDF investment, this development in Washington will stimulate business growth through the construction of a number of high quality work units, creating jobs, ensuring inward investment and addressing a shortage of such workspaces. These are essential criteria to support local growth and rebalance the economy and it is a pleasure to be here today to officially mark the opening of the development.”

Councillor Paul Watson, North East LEP board member and Leader of Sunderland City Council said:
“It’s great news to celebrate the official launch of Teal Farm Park with completion of both phases. The business park is a strong example of the sort of development the LEP’s North East Investment Fund, which includes Growing Places funding, was set up to support. We have watched it move towards completion following our funding, which is great news for businesses and the region. The first phase has already had a positive impact on the local economy, and the completed development has the size, location and quality to thrive in the future.”

The development is supporting SME creation and existing SMEs looking to stay in the area who might otherwise struggle to find quality business space as well as supporting inward migration of new entrepreneurs to the North East. The project is creating space which exceed environmental standards, allowing SMEs to enjoy energy efficiency savings and meet customer requirements for supply chain carbon reduction.

Gavin Cordwell-Smith, Chief Executive of the Hellens Group, the Washington based property developer and land regeneration specialist said:
“We are delighted to see these units officially opened. We are very grateful to the Department for Communities and Local Government for providing grants from the European Regional Development Fund. This funding, along with loans from the North East Local Enterprise Partnerships Investment Fund, has allowed the development to proceed. It will bring both significant economic and employment benefits to the North East.”

The £55m North East Investment Fund is a loan fund for businesses that are looking for financial investment to help them grow through capital and infrastructure projects. The fund, which includes Growing Place Fund and Regional Growth Fund monies, supports projects that will create jobs and encourage economic growth in the North East.