Invest Newcastle celebrates record year while recognising challenges that lie ahead

May 26, 2020 @ 11:29 by Alison Cowie

Despite a difficult end to the financial year, Invest Newcastle marked March 2020 with a record number of new investments and expansions.

Between April 2019-March 2020, more than 900 jobs were created and safeguarded and 23 new businesses from outside the region chose Newcastle as a base for their business.

Invest Newcastle saw a rise in investment across the fintech space, with fast-growing global companies XE.com and Singletrack opening new bases in the city. The science and healthcare sector also saw significant growth – a direct result of campaign work and the opening of a new specialist laboratory facility on Newcastle Helix. The Biosphere has been fundamental in helping to attract innovative life science companies.

The team worked with the BBC, which has since announced that it is setting up a Design and Engineering Tech Hub in Newcastle. BBC director general, Lord Tony Hall, described the city as a place looking for fresh ideas and where they can deliver a new generation of software engineers; designers; product developers and data scientists.

Other highlights included 30 inward investment visits, where the team showcased the city assets to potential investors either on an individual basis or as part of an arranged group tour such as around the Rugby Heineken Champions Cup Final in May. International visitors included a life sciences delegation from Cuba, the Japanese Ambassador and the British Deputy High Commissioner Chennai, India.

As part of their work to promote the city to global investors, the team also showcased the city’s life sciences and digital strengths at BioJapan out near Tokyo- Asia’s premier partnering event for the biotechnology industry and at the SmartCity Expo in Barcelona.

During the year they also supported ten businesses to expand and grow their business and despite COVID-19, some companies are continuing to see increased demand for products and services and are still pushing forward with their expansion plans.

As they move into the new financial year, the team have also been working to attract inward investment into Gateshead.  As neighbours and partners, this is an opportunity to bring shared and complementary sector strengths together. They are already starting to see a strong pipeline of enquires for both Newcastle and Gateshead.

Jennifer Hartley, director of Invest Newcastle (pictured), said: “I am delighted to have ended the financial year with a record number of new investments. We are so proud of the talent we have here and the collaborative nature of the business community – such great ambassadors for our region helping us to give visitors the welcome they deserve.

“Despite a slow start to the new financial year, it is really promising to see a strong pipeline of enquiries. Gateshead has a rich offer and this partnership will further enhance strengthen our property portfolio and knowledge-based offer to investors.

“There is no question that this is a challenging time for our economy. What is promising is that many of the predictions for a post COVID-19 world align with our region’s strengths in life science, AI, big data, and tech. Although we face a very different future, we are well placed to meet the challenges of the future business environment.”

Councillor Ged Bell, cabinet member for Employment and Culture at Newcastle City Council, said: “Our economy will not return to ‘normal’ after COVID-19 and we know it has already changed significantly. As well as support local businesses with their immediate financial challenges we are working hard on our city’s long-term economic recovery. Helping indigenous businesses to survive is a vital component in our recovery, however long term we need to look at how we can continue to build on our sector strengths, facilitate growth and create new jobs.

“Inward Investment is one of the ways we can support our economy and shape our new world. I have no doubt that our world-leading research, infrastructure, talent, and sector strengths will attract more businesses to be part of Newcastle’s story. Our business community are our ambassadors – please continue to shout about everything that makes our city a great place to invest.”

Councillor Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council, added: “It’s important now more than ever that we work collaboratively with our neighbours to promote key investment opportunities across Newcastle and Gateshead to a wider audience. Strong partnerships are essential for the region’s economic recovery after the coronavirus outbreak, so we can support local people and create more and better jobs.”

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