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North East business community and economic partners have their say on Local Industrial Strategy

Businesses in the North East this week contributed to the development of the region’s Local Industrial Strategy (LIS), which will set out how the region and government will work together to deliver increased productivity and living standards in the North East.

During the North East Local Industrial Strategy Summit, co-ordinated by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), plans for the strategy were laid out to an audience which included representatives from the North East business community, academia and local government.

Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East LEP, said: “The North East has been selected by Government as one of six areas to be the first to develop Local Industrial Strategies.

“The North East’s strategy will be ambitious and outward-looking, demonstrating how we will use our strengths as a region to increase productivity and improve the earning power and quality of life for people who live here.”

The North East LIS will complement the UK’s overarching Industrial Strategy, which aims to boost UK productivity, and use investment in skills, industry and infrastructure to create jobs and increase the earning power of people across the UK.

The LIS will include details on how the region can capitalise on opportunities presented by sector deals in areas such as clean growth and ageing society, and plans for the North East to forge links in international markets, increase inward investment and capitalise on international trade.

At the summit, businesses took part in a series of discussions themed around topics including infrastructure, energy and advanced manufacturing, contributing their insights and ideas to the development of the strategy.

“At today’s summit we presented the evidence and research which will form the basis of our LIS and we heard from some of the partners who are helping to inform its development.

“This strategy is an opportunity to demonstrate how the North East can capitalise on opportunities and really make its mark on the world, and it’s important that the business community has a say on its development. That’s why it was so encouraging to see so many people, who will be vital in making this vision a reality, actively involved in the event today,” added Andrew Hodgson.

Speakers at the summit included Ariel C Armony, Ph.D, from the University of Pittsburgh in the USA, who shared lessons from the Pittsburgh region’s delivery of increased productivity; Joaquim Oliveira Martins from the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, who discussed how all regions can benefit from increases in jobs and productivity; Tony Danker from Be The Business, who talked about the UK campaign for productivity and competitiveness; Mayor Jamie Driscoll, North of Tyne Combined Authority; and Cllr Iain Malcolm, Chair of the North East Combined Authority and Leader of South Tyneside Council.

The development of the North East LIS is being led by the North East LEP. The LIS will complement the North East Strategic Economic Plan – the key economic policy document for the region, which sets out the plan for adding 100,000 more and better jobs to the North East economy by 2024.

Find out more about the development of the North East Local Industrial Strategy.

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North East partnership welcomes Government’s tourism sector deal announcement

A consortium of North East partners has today (Friday 28 June) welcomed the Government’s tourism sector deal announcement and set out the region’s intention to bid to become a Tourism Zone.

Part of the UK Government’s Modern Industrial Strategy, the new tourism sector deal will stimulate further growth and improve the productivity and performance of the sector across the country.

Developed in partnership with the British Tourist Authority and Industry, it will support the creation of 10,000 apprenticeships, 130,000 new hotel rooms – 75% of those being built outside of London – a new Tourism Data Hub to better target overseas visitors and improvements to disabled facilities and access to destinations across the country.

Another key feature of the tourism sector deal are plans to pilot up to five Tourism Zones to drive visitor numbers across the country. Each Tourism Zone will receive Government support to grow its local visitor economy through various initiatives, including product and promotion development, mentoring support for businesses and digital skills training.

A consortium of North East organisations including NewcastleGateshead Initiative, North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP), North of Tyne Combined Authority, North East Combined Authority and regional partners have today indicated their commitment to bid for the North East to become a Tourism Zone.

Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership said: “As well as supporting thousands of jobs across the region, tourism generates millions of pounds for the local economy.

“Our cultural, heritage and natural environment assets, which include two world heritage sites, are important drivers for the local economy. Special events like Kynren in Country Durham and the Great North Run in Newcastle, Gateshead and South Tyneside, attract visitors from all over the world who spend money in our hotels, restaurants, shops and businesses.

“Government’s tourism sector deal gives us an opportunity to further strengthen our tourism offer in the region by investing in new products, infrastructure and skills to position us as one of the best destinations to visit in the UK.

“The Strategic Economic Plan for the North East shows the importance of improving skills to boost the economy. If we are successful in our bid to become a Tourism Zone we can deliver a greater tourism experience and help support growth in the sector by investing in people to create more and better jobs.”

Leader of Northumberland County Council, Cllr Peter Jackson, and North of Tyne Combined Authority Portfolio Lead for Place and Productivity said: “One of the most distinctive features of tourism in the North East of England is the sheer diversity of our offer, across a range of natural, environmental, heritage and cultural assets.

“As an integral part of the region’s economy, we see tremendous scope to continue to enhance and improve the quality of the whole visitor experience, from a domestic and inbound perspective, with the tourism sector deal providing a great opportunity for us to further strengthen the way we work together to achieve this.

“It’s absolutely essential therefore that we have the right infrastructure for our visitors both in terms of transport and digital connectivity, before, during and after their stay.

“We want visitors to have the best possible experience, and get the most out of their visit here to ensure they come back time and time again.”

Councillor Simon Henig, Leader of Durham County Council and Vice-Chair of the North East Leadership Board, Thematic Lead for Finance and Skills and Employment of the North East Combined Authority, said: “There is huge potential for the visitor economy in the North East to grow and a deal for this sector is most welcome.

“We are developing attractions and infrastructure that matches the increasing demands of residents and visitors, as well as promoting ourselves to investors, businesses and students from outside the region.

“We already have world-class visitor attractions including the NewcastleGateshead Quayside, the Great North Run, World Heritage Sites, the North East coast, the Lumiere light festival, Alnwick Garden and Angel of the North, to name just a few.

“Substantial investments have already been made in the Great Exhibition of the North, The Sill visitor centre on Hadrian’s Wall, sporting events such as the European Rugby and Cricket World Cup, and historic attractions such as Auckland Castle and Kynren.

“This is being matched with more and better hotels, restaurants, conference facilities, and visitor centres as well as better coordination and communication of the region’s offer.”

Sarah Stewart, chief executive of destination management and marketing agency NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “We welcome the Government’s announcement of the tourism sector deal and the opportunity it presents to work with partners in the region to further strengthen our tourism offer. Attracting visitors to the North East creates a sense of place which benefits local communities, as well as changing perceptions and attitudes of the region.

“The tourism industry is already the fourth largest sector in the North East with an attractive visitor offer of vibrant and cultural city centres through to beautiful countryside and coastlines.

“If successful with our bid, a Tourism Zone will strengthen the sector and amplify the wider economic and social benefits of encouraging people to move and work here, students to study here and businesses to invest here. It will also enable us to build on past and planned developments in the sector, such as the new £260m arena, conference and exhibition centre on Gateshead Quays which will put the region in an even stronger position to attract major national and international events.”

To read the more about the Government’s new tourism sector deal, visit www.gov.uk.

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New Science and Innovation Audit identifies ways the North East can prepare for Industry 4.0 – the fourth industrial revolution.

The integration of digital technologies into manufacturing is a major opportunity for businesses in the North East according to the findings of a new Science and Innovation audit.

Through a new audit of the region’s advanced manufacturing and digital sectors, the North East LEP and partners have identified opportunities for businesses in the automotive, pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing sectors to build links with the North East digital sector, increasing the region’s competitiveness in the global marketplace.

James Davies, North East LEP Innovation Programme Manager, said: “In the North East we have a reputation for making things and making them well and our goods and products remain the source of the majority of our exports. However, the way we make these goods is continually changing and the region must prepare for this next great shift. We see the potential for links between the digital and advanced manufacturing sectors leading to new types of products and services.

“Our Applied Digital Technologies Science and Innovation Audit (SIA) was carried out in partnership with organisations across the North East and Tees Valley, with the aim of understanding more about how Industry 4.0 will impact on some of the North East’s biggest businesses.”

Based on a proposition set out by the German Government, Industry 4.0 refers to the next stage in manufacturing that uses new, digital and real-time approaches to production to meet demand for more complex, individualised and digitally enabled products.

The North East LEP worked with Tees Valley Combined Authority, local business and sector organisations, universities and the national Catapult Centres for Digital (North East and Tees Valley) and High Value Manufacturing (CPI) to carry out the SIA, gathering information on the opportunities and challenges facing three of the North East’s biggest manufacturing sectors: automotive, chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

The audit also looked into how the region’s digital sector can provide solutions, for example by using digital technologies to drive efficiency and competitiveness within the manufacturing process.

James Davies added: “We knew there was already work being done in the North East to use digital technologies to make our manufacturing more productive and competitive and the audit has helped to show what can be done to support more of this type of integration. We found opportunities to accelerate the adoption of digital technologies within advanced manufacturing businesses in the region, including actions that will help overcome the barriers to uptake.

“The digitisation of manufacturing is a major opportunity for us here in the North East and we will now be working with partners to roll out delivery of the recommendations from the audit.”

A summary of the Applied Digital Technologies in Advanced Manufacturing Science and Innovation Audit can be read here, while the full report can be downloaded here.


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North East LEP to publish first, annual ‘Our Economy’ report

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) will unveil its first annual ‘Our Economy’ report at Sage Gateshead on Tuesday 6 March 2018.

Presenting an overview of the North East economy and how it is changing over time, the new report will become an important resource for government, policymakers and businesses operating in the region.

Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East LEP said: “It’s important we track our progress and monitor our economic performance so we position the North East to take advantage of future developments, including those arising from the Government’s recently published Industrial Strategy.

“Our annual review of the North East economy will ensure we remain on track to deliver the refreshed Strategic Economic Plan and reach our aim of creating 100,000 more and better jobs by 2024.”

As well as providing a comprehensive look at the regional economy, ‘Our Economy’ will also look, in-depth, at a topical issue affecting the North East. In 2018 that topic will be ‘the North East in the global economy’.

Victoria Sutherland, Senior Economist at the North East LEP said: “We’re bringing an expert panel of speakers together from business, education and government to discuss the importance of international relations and what the North East needs to do to build stronger international links going forward.

“Our keynote speaker will be a North East business already trading internationally, and they will share how other regional businesses can follow in their footsteps.”

Our Economy 2018 – with insights into global connections, takes place at Sage Gateshead on Tuesday 6 March from 08:30-11:00. Places are free but must be booked in advance using the Eventbrite form




Home / Industrial Strategy

In conversation: Estelle Blanks discusses the Innovation Project Development Fund

As Deputy Director of Innovation SuperNetwork, Estelle Blanks works with North East businesses to help them get the funding they need by connecting them with investors through events such as FinanceCamp.

Estelle discusses how businesses in the early stages of an innovation-based project can benefit from up to £200,000 worth of project development funding that’s available in the Innovation Project Development Fund.

Read on to find out if this is for you and what the next steps are.

Why is the Innovation Project Development Fund important?

The North East LEP, as part of the North East Strategic Economic Plan, is committed to creating more and better jobs in the region and help give a long-term productivity boost to the economy. Ensuring there is a strong pipeline of projects that encourage innovation-led growth is essential to deliver this vision. This is what the Innovation Project Development Fund is all about.

The Innovation SuperNetwork is a key pillar of the North East LEP’s innovation strategy, bringing together over 50 stakeholders and reaching out to over 5,000 SMEs in the North East region. We help promote the innovation profile and brand equity of the region and we bring together the regional innovation community across academic networks, catapults, industry and innovation hubs. As such we are keen to see more innovation projects develop and benefit from the new Innovation Project Development Fund.

What types of companies are eligible for the fund?

The Innovation Project Development Fund exists to help companies and projects that can make a real impact on the North East economy raise the capital they need to go and make their plans a reality. Prospective applicants can be from the public, private or voluntary sectors.

This is project development funding for strategic innovation projects (larger than £5m in total) which will enable the project to progress to achieve full funding routes.

If your company creates more jobs in the region, encourages collaboration, or contributes to the productivity and growth of the North East’s economy through innovation, this may be for you.

What types of projects are eligible for the fund?

The North East LEP is inviting bids from early stage innovation projects to come forward for development stage funding. Projects that are anticipated to be over £5m in scale by the end of the project are encouraged to come forward. You should apply for this funding if your project supports the strategic aspirations of the North East LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan and the Industrial Strategy.

The projects must be capital, represent a strategic step change and result in key outputs such as jobs growth, business start-up and growth and the development of new products, processes or services.

Projects will need to demonstrate engagement and partnership between businesses and research institutions.

The Innovation SuperNetwork may be able to introduce you to potential partners and a network of other organisations and businesses who may be seeking collaboration or a partnership or even help with a particular technical aspect of your project.


Next steps for Innovation Project Development Fund applicants

Interested in applying for this funding? Here are the next steps for applying to the Innovation Project Development Fund.

Get in touch

The North East LEP welcomes informal discussions and queries from interested parties, so if you have any questions at all or need help assessing the eligibility of your project, just get in touch with James Davies ([email protected] / 0191 561 5430).

Have a look online

There’s plenty of guidance around the funding and the application process on the North East LEP website, including a scoring matrix that will help you easily identify whether you qualify for the funding or not.

I would also recommend reading the Strategic Economic Plan and the Industrial Strategy, as they’ll reveal what the North East LEP is looking for from applications.

Get collaborating

The Innovation SuperNetwork can use its network to help businesses make connections and can provide support which will allow you to access new markets and opportunities which can help you get access to funding such as this.

How to apply

Make sure you read through all the guidance documents and check you are eligible for the Innovation Project Development funding.

If you’re interested in submitting an application, please contact either James Davies (details above) or Ben McLaughlin ([email protected]  0191 561 5430) and ask for the relevant application form and guidance.

The deadline for submissions is midnight on the 30 March 2018.


For more information on the Innovation Project Development Fund see here: https://www.nelep.co.uk/news/lep-funding-available-early-stage-innovation-projects/

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Growing the contribution of the North East pharmaceuticals sector

In conversation with Martin Inskip of First for Pharma

As the UK Government is framing its new Industrial Strategy and is working through the issues involved in leaving the European Union, First for Pharma (FFP) and the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), supported by the North East LEP, have worked together on a new report which aims to profile the North East pharmaceutical sector and identify how its economic contribution can be enhanced in the region.

The North East sector was identified as one of the key opportunity areas in the refreshed North East SEP published in March 2017 and was profiled in Sir John Bell’s report to Government in preparation for the planned sector deal.

The new report on the North East’s pharmaceutical sector is based on both analysis of published data and a series of interviews with 12 of the main manufacturing companies in the region, who employ 3500 people between them.

The findings demonstrate the economic importance of the sector nationally and regionally. The report highlights:

• A well-established and diverse sector with different business models, technology ranges and scales of production with an international reputation for business resilience and regulatory reliability.

• A unique profile in UK terms including a number of contract development and contract manufacturers, key supply chain companies and large multinational drug developers. Together, the region’s manufacturers have full capability to develop drug manufacturing processes for clinical development and commercial supply of tableted medicines.

• International ownership including investments from the United States, Japan and India, as well as from the UK.

• A GVA contribution to the UK estimated to be between £0.73 billion and £1.28 billion annually, with an average of 86% of their products being exported with 64% of exports going to the United States.

• For the region, the sector employs between 4,300 and 5,300 people and contributes £450-£790 million to the region’s Gross Value Added (GVA). Including indirect and induced effects, the North East pharmaceutical manufacturing industry supports between 18,800 and 23,500 jobs across the UK and adds £0.73-£1.28 billion to the UK economy.

• Almost 2000 jobs are in high value research or manufacturing roles with the largest cohort aged between 31 and 50 (49%). The quality and stability of the employees in the local labour force is one of the North East’s competitive advantages and the size and sector stability means there are opportunities to build careers in the region. The sector is growing and expecting to recruit additional jobs to its current manufacturing and research workforce this financial year (2017-2018).

The research highlights a number of opportunities and challenges, including strengthening the profile, performance and contribution of the sector through innovation investment and skills, and stimulating more employment in the region through investment and through the supply chain and logistics. It also highlights the importance of a good outcome to the Brexit discussions, where the regulatory regime is seen as crucial and regulatory disruption seen as a significant threat.

The report identifies the following recommendations:

• Supply chain strategy: Development of a supply chain and logistics strategy: work should be undertaken to understand opportunities to strengthen the supply chain in the region and identify opportunities for improving the logistics support, including taking advantage of the North East’s growing digital capabilities.

 Innovation: work to foster the following innovation capabilities in the North East should include ultra-high potency manufacturing; the application of continuous manufacturing for drug manufacturers and smart pharmaceutical delivery including packaging, sensing and new formulations as well as process developments including application of digital, robotic and low carbon technologies.

• Skills: the sector should work with the North East LEP to develop a clearer analysis of the current skills gaps, potential future needs and inform the content of these initiatives.

• Regulatory Environment: The continuing importance of the regulatory environment should be promoted and concerns about the impact of the vote to leave the European Union should be communicated during the current period of consultation on the negotiations.

• Co-ordination: Co-ordination within the sector and with other parts of North East industry should be enhanced to take these recommendations forward regionally and nationally.

Download or read a copy of the full report here.

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In conversation with Richard Baker, Head of Policy and Strategy

The North East LEP welcomes the Industrial Strategy White Paper

We welcome the publication of the Industrial strategy white paper which has the potential to make a significant impact on the long term health of the UK economy

The White Paper has a particular focus on the role of places in rebalancing the UK economy. The North East has a strong role to play in delivering the strategy through its industrial and innovation strengths in advanced manufacturing, life sciences innovation, energy and the digital economy. Our science strengths in areas like ageing and smart data can contribute to addressing the grand challenges identified in the report. The focus on skills will provide new opportunities to improve economic opportunities for local people.

We look forward to understanding opportunities for new investment, for example through the Innovation Place Fund and we look forward to future discussions about the proposed UK Shared Prosperity Fund as a source of funding as we leave the European Union. It is clear from the proposals that the decision to create a North of Tyne Mayoral Combined Authority should offer new opportunities for the region.

We are pleased that the Government has announced continued funding for the Growth Hub network and that there are opportunities for continuing development of its role which should be progressed. This is central to the approach of the North East Strategic Economic Plan, aiming to ensure that support is available and accessible to support business growth.

Read the White Paper here.

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Building Our Industrial Strategy – a response from the North East

The  recent Green Paper, Building Our Industrial Strategy, sets out Government’s proposed approach to creating an industrial strategy that addresses long term challenges to the UK economy,  aiming to increase productivity and drive growth across the whole country.

The Green Paper aims to identify where proactive Government intervention can:

  • Build on UK economic strengths and extend excellence into the future in order to secure investment and develop markets for UK goods and services
  • Close identified performance gaps between sectors, companies and areas
  • Ensure that the UK is the most competitive place to start and build a business

During a three month consultation period, the Government invited responses to the proposed strategy The North East LEP, working together with the North East Combined Authority and in consultation with business organisations and other partners, put forward a response.

Richard Baker, Head of Strategy and Policy at the North East LEP, introduces the key elements of our response.

The Government proposed that a UK-wide industrial strategy is required if we’re to successfully increase productivity and competitiveness in the UK economy. We welcomed the opportunity to have an input to the proposed strategy

We drew on the extensive consultation and discussions the North East LEP has had with economic partners across the North East region. Much of this discussion has taken place as we’ve worked to refresh the North East’s Strategic Economic Plan (SEP), which sets out the strategic direction for the regional economy. The timing is important given the decision to leave the European Union, and it is important that we prepare for the opportunities and challenges”

Indeed, the anticipation that a national industrial strategy would be developed was one of the elements which informed the development of the SEP, which sets out clearly evidence of the region’s industrial strengths, innovation and business growth opportunities.

In our response to Government we identified 10 key issues and set out recommendations focused on the following areas:

  1. The importance of the North East SEP in setting a direction for our economy
  2. Measuring success of the industrial strategy
  3. Preparing for leaving the European Union
  4. Sector deals
  5. Promoting and resourcing innovation in the North East
  6. Supporting our business growth ecosystem
  7. Improving skills to drive growth
  8. A long term framework for public investment
  9. Improved infrastructure for enhanced productivity and investment
  10. Robust, collaborative and multi-level governance

We’re making good progress towards the North East LEP’s aim of creating more and better jobs in the North East, driving forward the region’s economy and building on our strengths as a region. It’s our belief that, as the North East SEP is implemented, it will make  a strong contribution to the UK’s overall industrial development and will continue to cement the North East’s position as one of the UK’s fastest growing regional economies. The Industrial Strategy provides a significant opportunity for ensuring it is delivered

Read the full, detailed list of recommendation

Download the North East LEP and North East Combined Authority’s full response to the Green Paper