September 22, 2016 @ 16:15 by Alison Cowie
Over 360 delegates flocked to the sell-out North East Automotive Alliance’s (NEAA) 2016 Expo at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light this week.
Now in its second year, the event has grown significantly, and brought a stellar line-up of the industry’s big names to the North East. A total of 16 buyers were at the event, including representatives from Nissan, Jaguar Land Rover, Komatsu UK, Cummins UK, Nifco UK, Gestamp Tallent, Calsonic Kansei Europe, Faltec Europe and Faurecia, to make contacts and discover the products and services available in the North East.
This year’s event also featured a new Technology Showcase, which gave 15 businesses a platform to display their latest products, services and technologies to an audience of potential buyers.
NEAA CEO Paul Butler said: “We are running a new ACE SME Programme, working with 160 small and medium enterprises over the next two and a half years.
“Part of this is showcasing technologies in SMEs and providing the mechanisms for them to pitch their innovative technology to larger companies. It’s a fantastic opportunity for companies to showcase their products, and gives them a chance to do business with potential customers and investors they would not otherwise have.”
The Expo, which is all about showing off the strength and depth of the North East’s automotive industry and helping firms to win new business, also featured keynote speeches from Nissan’s Kevin Fitzpatrick, Vice President for Manufacturing in the UK, and Jaguar Land Rover’s Michael Mychajluk, who heads the company’s supply chain and external engagement and purchasing. Between them, the two companies are responsible for two-thirds of the UK’s vehicle output.
The Expo also organised a number of industry-specific workshops, covering topics such as funding for innovation, advice on trade and investment and cost saving through energy management.
The three exhibition areas were sold out and packed with over 65 companies displaying their products and services, plus an outside demonstration area which displayed vehicles, products and interactive elements from Komatsu, Briggs Equipment, RS Components and Infiniti.
Paul Butler said: “The size and scope of our second expo reflects the fact that the NEAA is now the largest automotive cluster in the UK and one of, if not the, fastest growing clusters in Europe.
“Today the NEAA has 160 active member companies working together to promote and support the sustainable economic growth of the region’s automotive industry. We have achieved that in just over one year.
“The expo is all about raising the profile of the North East automotive sector and we’re delighted more organisations and VIPs are visiting this year from outside the region.
“It’s an ideal platform to raise awareness and really push the value being created here in the North East and promote the significant and growing capability that exists here.”