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Investing in Innovation for a greener UK

Alan Welby, Innovation Director discusses today’s announcement of the Chancellor’s plans for UK to be the world’s first net zero aligned financial centre. 


Put simply, net zero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. We reach net zero when the amount we add is no more than the amount taken away.  

Net zero means a radical change across the entire economy, replacing fossil fuels and other sources of emissions wherever possible. 

This is why the announcement at COP26 that the global finance system will be rewired for net zero and that the UK will become the first net zero finance centre in the world is so important. This step is of huge significance to the North East LEP area.  

The North East holds considerable potential for investors interested in market growth that assists our net zero ambitions, particularly in ‘green’ industries but also in the technologies that will enable all sectors to reduce their carbon debt. 

Our businesses already contribute to net zero markets, from renewable energy generation and energy storage to electric vehicles and battery manufacture but we also have capabilities in emergent and nascent markets that will also be looking to their net zero commitments. We have significant regional specialisms and capabilities, and operate internationally in autonomous vehicles, robotics, space and satellites whilst our presence, along with our capabilities, in other markets including biopharmaceuticals, fintech and cybersecurity is growing. 

We need to ensure that businesses in these markets are reaching their full potential to achieve net zero carbon emissions and commitment to investment in these markets is critical. Through a gearing up of finance for sustainable growth, we can give a big boost to business innovation and investment that powers this transition. 

One example of what we are doing to accelerate investment in innovation and boost net zero innovation activity is the 12-month Finance for Sustainable Growth or ‘F4SG’ pilot with the City of London Corporation that is showcasing the North East’s initiatives in green innovation and associated enterprises to a wider investor base. Its aim, through intensifying the region’s connections to London and its global network, is to boost the flow of green investment to the region and to reinforce the North East’s ecosystem for nurturing sustainable businesses. The initiative is a collaboration of the Corporation with the North East LEP, Northern Accelerator and North Star Ventures. 

We’re excited to see where this pilot takes us and to show London-based and international investors some of the ground-breaking innovation happening in our region.   

Find out more about the innovation support and finance available in our region via the Innovation Toolkit on the North East Growth Hub.   

Home / COP26

North East LEP to welcome Planet Mark Zero Carbon Tour

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has re-affirmed its commitment to working with its partners to help tackle climate change, ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26).

The North East LEP is playing a key role working with the region’s businesses and universities, with northern partners, and with Government as the country comes together behind the UK’s aim to achieve net zero climate emissions by 2050.

On Friday (22 October) the North East will welcome the Zero Carbon Tour, which will see the electric Carbon Battle Bus parked outside Newcastle Helix.

Lucy Winskell OBE, Chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership said: “The North East has made significant progress in reducing its emissions and in contributing to the global transition to a cleaner, less polluted world over the last few years. We have reduced emissions from energy generation and industry, we have seen new businesses grow and new jobs created that are enabling the drive to net zero emissions, and scientists in our region’s businesses and universities are developing and commercialising new ideas in areas including energy, water, transport and construction.

“There are significant opportunity areas for the regional economy in the transition to Net Zero and we are committed to working towards a decarbonised economy which creates more jobs, protects our climate and outstanding natural environment, and which includes people and communities across the region.

“We also know we need to do more, accelerating the impact on transport and domestic emissions in particular, which together represent 70% of our current emissions. A firmer national policy framework, new investment programmes and strengthened powers locally can enable this acceleration by continuing to invest in our energy assets, and promoting a modal shift in transport, decarbonisation of vehicles and the retrofitting of homes.”

The region’s Net Zero drive will get a boost on Friday 22 October when Planet Mark’s Zero Carbon Tour makes a stop in the region. As part of the national effort to highlight the UK’s leadership of COP26, the tour has been making its way across the country to showcase the efforts being undertaken – both locally and globally – to aid in the transition to a net zero carbon economy and to highlight how businesses can reduce costs while reducing emissions. 

The North East leg of the Net Zero Tour will shine a spotlight on the region’s energy sectors which are highlighted in the North East Energy for Growth strategy. The strategy, led by the North East LEP, aims to drive economic growth in the North East by bringing partners together to accelerate delivery of large-scale regional energy projects which contribute to net zero. Priorities include uniting the region’s energy innovation and demonstration assets to showcase solutions to global energy challenges, and to support growth in the offshore renewables, low carbon heat and electric vehicle and battery sectors.

Andrew Clark, Energy Programme Lead at the North East LEP, said: “Our aim, through the Energy for Growth strategy, is to create more and better jobs in renewable energy sectors and to put the North East on the map as a leader in low carbon energy innovation.

“This regionwide focus on energy was established as one of our key areas for action in the North East Strategic Economic Plan and we have implemented a range of initiatives to support growth in these sectors; securing inward investment into key sites in our ports and rivers, investing in key technologies and innovation facilities, and identifying a pipeline of £600m of low carbon energy projects around our region which we are working to move into delivery. These projects will not only create a greener economy but will provide jobs for our residents and supply chain opportunities for our businesses.”

The Zero Carbon Tour is an online event designed to give an overview of what net zero carbon means, the significance of COP26, how organisations can set their own credible net zero carbon targets in line with the UN-backed Race to Zero’s criteria and implement plans to achieve them. ​

Lucy Winskell continued: “The Net Zero Tour affords businesses of all shapes and sizes the opportunity to further explore how to achieve net zero carbon emissions in their products and processes and learn from some of the businesses in the region who are at the forefront of this work.  

“I would encourage any interested parties to sign up to take part in this online event.”

For more information and to sign up to the event, visit eventbrite.co.uk.