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North East LEP board discusses Industrial Strategy with minister

Energy and Industry Minister Jesse Norman met with North East Local Enterprise Partnership board members and toured a leading manufacturer today in a visit to discuss the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper.

LEP Chair Andrew Hodgson told the minister in the meeting at subsea specialist SMD’s Wallsend base how priorities in the region’s Strategic Economic Plan anticipate many of those in the Government’s proposed industrial blueprint to fuel new UK economic growth.

The minister was visiting the North East as part of a series of meetings with businesses and LEPs across the country to outline the Government’s Industrial Strategy proposal.

The Industrial Strategy is a vital part of the plan for Britain as set out by Prime Minister Theresa May.

It will look to drive growth across the United Kingdom, using major new investments in infrastructure and innovation delivery to drive prosperity, creating more highly-skilled, high paid jobs and opportunities.

Energy and Industry Minister Jesse Norman said:

Our Industrial Strategy is at its best when it draws on the unique strengths of different areas and communities across the country.

The North East LEP is clearly focused on investing in areas of world-class business strength in the region. Through our ambitious Industrial Strategy Green Paper, we have committed to supporting growth across the North East and the rest of the UK, using new investment in skills, infrastructure and research to help create better skills, better jobs and better opportunities.

Andrew Hodgson, North East LEP Chair and SMD CEO, said:

The LEP board was delighted to seize the opportunity to meet with the minister to learn more about the Government’s Industrial Strategy.

We are encouraged that many of its key aims – for example developing skills and investment in science, research and innovation – align with the North East’s priorities to boost economic growth as set out in our Strategic Economic Plan.

The meeting was an important opportunity for the LEP to reinforce the North East’s crucial economic contribution to the Northern Powerhouse, wider UK economy and how regional business and partners are signed up to the SEP to drive forward new economic prosperity.

Mike Jones, Deputy CEO of SMD and MD of SMD China, talked with the minister about how the Industrial Strategy will impact on business. He said,

As a UK-based manufacturing company with customers worldwide, there is a great deal in the Industrial Strategy that impacts very directly on our business.


For example, one of the main pillars of the strategy is a commitment to invest in science, research and innovation.  In our meeting today we’ve briefed the minister on the progress made by Team Tao; a collaboration between Soil Machine Dynamics and Newcastle University.  Team Tao is the UK’s sole representative in the semi-final stage of the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, the prestigious international competition which challenges teams to design and build new ways to map the ocean floor at depths and to a resolution never previously achieved.


The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates the ocean economy could be valued at US$3 trillion by 2030 so our work has great significance in the context of the Industrial Strategy and the UK’s long-term economic prosperity.


We’ve also stressed to the minister the importance of the UK establishing and retaining trade agreements that enable international businesses such as our own to compete on a level playing field wherever there is a market for our services.


As the UK prepares to exit the European Union and with a new administration in the United States, now more than ever before business and government need to work together to ensure our international competitiveness.