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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.