July 17, 2020 @ 16:57 by Chloe Holmes
The British Deputy High Commissioner, who represents the UK Government in Chennai visited Newcastle in early 2020 and he was impressed by the life sciences, digital technology, and renewable energy sectors in the region. So much so, he committed to bringing a delegation of businesses as part of their responsibility to encourage FDI (foreign direct investment) into the UK. In 2019-20, India became the UK’s second largest source of FDI with 120 companies investing or expanding in the UK, total investment of more than £1.4 billion and creating more than 5400 new jobs.
Despite not being able to show off tech strengths in person, a virtual event took place where almost 30 businesses signed up to new explore opportunities, why the region is a leading business destination and the support available to enter the UK market.
Multiple relationships between India’s regions and the North East have been developed over the last decade, and the region has welcomed delegations in the past. In this case, the British Deputy High Commission in Chennai approached Newcastle as part of efforts to ensure the whole UK benefits from overseas diplomacy work by showcasing more cities than London alone.
Invest Newcastle brought together a range of speakers who gave an overview of the region’s assets, capabilities and strengths in data, immersive technologies and the FinTech space.
Panelists included Oliver Ballhatchet MBE, Deputy High Commissioner in Chennai, Jen Hartley, Director from Invest Newcastle, Steve Caughey, Director, UK National Innovation Centre for Data, Alex Cook, Innovation Manager, PROTO and Dawn Dunn, Innovation Manager, Dynamo North East.
Oliver Ballhatchet MBE, Deputy High Commissioner in Chennai welcomed delegates and gave an overview of the UK tech sector, that is growing at a faster pace than China and the US and six times faster than any other industry.
Jen Hartley, Director from Invest Newcastle set the scene, giving an overview of our assets, networks, ability to attract and retain top talent and the quality of life in the North East.
Steve Caughey, Director, UK National Innovation Centre, spoke about how we are building an entire eco system around data, our world class facilities on Newcastle Helix, making an impact through innovation and supporting businesses to tackle immediate problems as well as gaining insight and developing new skills through data.
Dawn Dunn, Innovation Manager, Dynamo talked about the FinTech sector, some of the leading brands we have in the region, our strong business support network and how Dynamo – a dedicated FinTech cluster in the North of England are facilitating growth through innovation, skills and collaboration.
Alex Cook, Innovation Manager, PROTO spoke about our region as one of the first adopters of immersive technology and how PROTO, Europe’s first R&D Centre of Excellence for Emerging Technology is transforming high potential ideas into new products and services.
Oliver Ballhatchet MBE, Deputy High Commissioner in Chennai who visited the region earlier this year said:
“Newcastle is a great city with a positive, collaborative and welcoming vibe. This virtual event was a fantastic way to showcase everything they have to offer, giving international investors one of the warmest welcomes in the UK. I am excited about the potential of this event in opening doors for further collaboration between India and Newcastle.”
Jen Hartley, Director from Invest Newcastle said:
“We are home to a thriving digital and tech ecosystem; this was an opportunity to showcase Newcastle within a UK context to a ready-made audience actively considering expansion in the UK or Europe. We love showing off our great city to potential investors and last year we welcomed many high-profile leaders and businesses from across the world, hosting more than 30 inward investment visits. Due to the current environment we can’t do this in person anymore, but this virtual event was a great way to help businesses feel part of our network and understand our offer. Our city has such a strong tech offering and with our cluster so willing to collaborate on webinars that showcase the area, I am sure it will continue to go from strength to strength and attract more international investors.
“Now more than ever we need to build our economy around these strengths – creating jobs and new opportunities for those who live and work here. A huge thank you to all our panelists who were great ambassadors for our city, bringing their expertise, support, offer and passion to this webinar, really helping us to demonstrate the collaborative nature of our tech eco system. We are so proud of our city and we hope that some of the businesses who joined us today will become part of our story.”