Areas of business growth opportunity

Growing our economy by focusing on key sectors in the North East

What are our areas of strategic importance?

There are key sectors in our region where we perform strongly and that offer opportunities to create more and better jobs:


  • Our digital community is one of the most vibrant, productive and rapidly developing in the UK
  • Newcastle is second in the UK for high-growth digital businesses at 22% (Tech Nation 2017 Report)
  • We have a software and technology industry valued at £2 billion
  • The sector employs 29,000 people in IT and digital jobs
  • Our creative industries employ 15,250 people
  • The GVA contribution from this sector is currently double the national average
  • Emerging specialisms within this sector include data analytics, virtual reality, smart data, cybersecurity, software development, cloud computing, shared services, systems design and communications, building information modelling, games design and delivery

Projects and initiatives that will help this sector grow include:

  • Digital alliance: Bringing together key networks, national agencies, universities and the public sector to support business and enterprise to grow the North East’s tech sector
  • Data for growth: Building on the North East’s advantages in smart data delivery

You can find out more about our strengths in this sector here.

Advanced manufacturing

Across the North East, advanced manufacturing and engineering are globally focused with strong clusters in automotive and medicines manufacturing.

  • There are 62,500 people employed in advanced manufacturing (UK top five)
  • We have 120,000 employees in wider manufacturing
  • There are 50,000 STEM students studying in our universities every year
  • Particular specialisms include automotive manufacturing and medicines manufacturing.

Projects and initiatives that will help this sector grow include:

  • Automotive and Vehicles North East Enterprise Zone: A range of sites for investment into advanced manufacturing
  • International Advanced Manufacturing Park: The project will generate around 10,000 new jobs
  • Advanced Manufacture Science Park: A platform for testing and development of new technologies and education at all levels
  • Centre for Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing: This will be a centre of excellence in advanced manufacturing sustainability
  • Centre for Smart Packaging and Delivery of Medicines: this will focus on smart and intelligent packaging, sensing and drug delivery

Health and Life Sciences

Global health services and markets are being shaped by rapid development of health care technologies, resulting in a shift towards more personalised treatments and the need to respond to the health and social care implications of an ageing population.

The North East of England has a unique combination of assets, capabilities and networks that can support the delivery of the UK’s response to this challenge. We are a region with excellence in three key areas of:

  • Pharmaceutical manufacturing
  • Clinical research and translation
  • Responding to an ageing population.

You can find out more about our strengths in this sector here.

Subsea, offshore and energy technologies

We are world leading in offshore and subsea technology

  • Over 50 companies with a combined turnover of £1.5bn
  • More than 15,000 working in the sector

Projects and initiatives that will help this sector grow:

  • North East Enterprise Zone: Offers a range of sites for investment into advanced manufacturing, around the Blyth Estuary and north bank of the Tyne
  • Tyne Offshore Centre: A major research and hyperbaric testing facility located on the north bank of the Tyne
  • Business support: New manufacturing support services will help diversification and growth.
  • National Centre for Energy Systems Integration: £20m development at Newcastle Science Central to bring together energy expertise from across the world.


The energy sector is central to the North East’s economy, with a range of organisations creating wealth, skills, and jobs in the region.

The energy agenda presents huge opportunities to drive and enable regional economic growth, and North East organisations are responding to national energy challenges and opportunities.

The North East has:

  • A globally significant Offshore energy and subsea technology cluster
  • Nationally significant energy assets which can help address national challenges in low carbon transport, power and heat
  • Energy technology demonstration, innovation and research excellence

Read more about our strengths in this sector here.


Where can I find out more about the targets in the Strategic Economic Plan and how we are performing against them?

You can find information on all of our targets here. The North East LEP is constantly reviewing progress against the targets as new data emerges and publishing regular updates on the news section of this website.

How was the SEP developed?

The first version of the Strategic Economic Plan was published in April 2014. It followed on from the North East Independent Economic Review and set out a high level vision for the economy and included investment programmes for Local Growth Fund and European funds which were available at that time.

The SEP was refreshed during 2016 and launched in March 2017 following an extensive consultation involving businesses and economic partners. The refresh process enabled the region to reflect on new economic data following the end of the recession and the changing economic policy environment including the decision to leave the European Union.

What is the plan?