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Achieving our potential through the application of digital technologies in the advanced manufacturing sector

James Davies, North East LEP Innovation Programme Manager, looks ahead to the North East Science and Innovation Audit which will examine the opportunities for the advanced manufacturing and digital sectors to link up, and invites companies to have their say……

The North East has a long, proud history of making things and particularly making complex things to be sold across the globe, but successful sectors never stay still. The type of goods and the way that we make these have always changed as new tastes drive design changes and new tools enable us to meet this demand at a lower price and/or higher quality.

The integration of digital technologies into our devices may have been around a little while now, but its potential is only just beginning to be fully recognised and unleashed. Bringing together digital technologies and other products will continue to stimulate radical changes to the products that people want and the way we make things.

Being in position to adapt to this change will not just happen on its own. We need to be able to innovate and change in the way we make things for us to make the most of this potential.

It is this thinking which lies behind our current project, our Science and Innovation Audit on the Application of Digital Technologies. This is the process through which we are looking at the ways in which we can use digital technologies to improve our already impressive manufacturing sectors’ competitiveness for the long-term.

Working across the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and Tees Valley Combined Authority areas, we are interested in understanding where these links are already working well and those where we need to do more to make sure local businesses are aware of the opportunities and have the right support to take advantage of these opportunities. Reflecting our particular local strengths we are currently focused on three manufacturing sectors: automotive, chemicals and pharmaceuticals as well as the digital strengths of the area.

With strong researchers based in our universities, experienced businesses and local networks bringing these partners together, the North East is a natural home to put this into action but other parts of the globe already have a lead on us.

Through the audit, we want to move beyond developing just a simple summary of what we are good at and where we need to work harder – we want to start the discussion to achieve our potential and understand what links, projects and support we need to bring together for long-term strengths.

This needs to be developed together as no one individual partner has all the answers. This is why we are inviting you to take part in a business survey. We want to hear from you whether you are from one of our digital or manufacturing companies so we can understand better what is already here and what linkages are already in place. We know there are great examples of this already working and we want to hear about it but we also want to know what is missing or what hasn’t worked so well or where you are not yet working with the other sectors.

You can find the surveys here: for Digital Companies and for  Manufacturing Companies

I’d encourage you to take part. It will only take 20 minutes and will inform us in understanding where the partnership of companies, industry bodies, research institutions and the public sector can work together and individually to support local companies to be competitive over the longer-term. The survey will be completely anonymous and we will not attribute any to any individual or organisation and will only be reported in collated form. We will be publishing information on the outcomes of the audit later in the year we will be organising an event in September to support this. If you would like to know more about the report or the future event please do contact:

Rebecca Furness, Innovation Programme Support Officer