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Creating powerful partnerships across the North

Source: PSE Feb/March 2019

Colin Bell, business growth director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), talks about why partnership across the North is key to achieving economic growth.

Partnership is central to the work we do at the North East LEP – it’s a key part of our organisation’s name and it’s a key part of everything we do. And when we talk about partnership, that doesn’t only mean partnerships within the north east, it means partnerships across the Northern Powerhouse and far beyond.

Being invited to join one of the panel discussions at the forthcoming EvoNorth event gives a valuable opportunity to explore how we can strengthen and build more relationships across the Northern Powerhouse, working together to leverage our strengths, grow the profile of the north, and develop successful two-way relationships with other parts of the world.

My colleague Andrew Clark, energy programme lead at the North East LEP, will also be part of a panel discussion at EvoNorth, focusing on the energy sector – one of the sectors where there are clear pan-northern strengths and an area where we’re working to maximise shared opportunities.

Historically the powerhouse of the nation, the north is now leading new energy agendas – for example, as the UK centre of excellence for development of hydrogen technology. As a region we’re leading globally significant plans to use hydrogen as a heating fuel.

Facilities in the north east also present the unique ability to innovate, demonstrate, and test a highly-comprehensive range of energy technologies at all scales, including offshore and onshore technologies.

The energy demonstration and innovation assets in the north east provide world-class academic research, and are a powerful test-bed for businesses across the UK and internationally. These assets play a crucial role in addressing national and international challenges across all energy vectors: de-risking, commercialising, and reducing costs of new and existing technologies.

We’re connecting and collaborating in other areas too, not least through the 11 LEPs in the north and through the network of Growth Hubs, which are supporting businesses to grow and scale throughout the country. The North East Growth Hub’s ‘Growth Through Mentoring’ programme is reaching beyond our borders, carefully matching business leaders with experienced mentors across the north who are willingly sharing their knowledge and expertise with growing businesses. 

Our work in the areas of innovation, business growth, and investment also reaches beyond the north east. This month sees the launch of Supply Chain North East, a multimillion-pound programme designed to help businesses diversify and broaden their markets. Through this we will be working with supply chains across the north and beyond to help businesses ensure they are resilient and innovative.

It’s clear that there’s a willingness to collaborate and, with the uncertainties that Brexit is bringing, it’s more important than ever that we act together to strengthen our relationships with other parts of the world and shout about the collective assets of the north.

Andrew and I are looking forward to making new connections and building on existing partnerships at EvoNorth. If we are to achieve our aim of creating 100,000 more and better jobs in the north east, we can’t act alone. We need to create an ecosystem which encourages more people to start up, scale up, and improve their businesses – and part of that process involves working together with others who are on the same journey.

Don't miss your chance to attend EvoNorth, which is free to attend for all qualifying civil servants. Visit the website here. 


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