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Awakening the full entrepreneurial force of the North East

By Colin Bell, business growth director, North East LEP

Like most things in life there are pros and cons. I begin writing this blog sat in a railway shelter as my first train into Newcastle has been cancelled.

While I’m welcoming the return to getting out and about with open arms, embracing the development of new connections, new partnerships and co-creation, I’m less enthusiastic about the cancelled trains and traffic jams – it’s hybrid working all the way for me!

The past few years have been a real rollercoaster and with soaring costs, changing global dynamics, changed working practices, evolved consumer behaviours and an overheated talent market, these ups and downs and twists and turns are likely to continue for some time.

Working with the North East LEP’s Business and Sector Growth Board, which is chaired by Ammar Mirza CBE and filled to the brim with committed and talented leaders, all passionate about unleashing the full potential of the North East, we have developed a plan to ride the rollercoaster and awaken the full entrepreneurial force of the North East. We want to tackle once and for all the challenges that have been holding us back.

The challenge is a big one. To level up as a region we need 25,200 additional businesses, to create at the very minimum 6,000 additional businesses every single year, to raise productivity per worker by £2,900 and we need 3,800 additional exporters. To put this into context a levelled up North East would have 200,000+ more jobs and an additional £10billion of economic output!

None of these issues are new, they have been with us for decades, however to tackle them requires different and more radical thinking. To achieve this, the North East LEP’s Business and Sector Growth Board is pulling together people from across the region to work on addressing these challenges and to inject new ideas and approaches.

The great news is that the North East is in a prime position to capitalise on the trends that have been accelerated by the pandemic and that are now fuelling global growth:

–        The North East is one of only 3 areas in the UK to have a growing scaleup population.
–        We’ve created more jobs in health and life sciences in two years than during the previous ten.
–        We are at the forefront of the green industrial revolution, the heart of UK electric vehicle and next generation battery manufacture.
–        We are recognised as the UK’s leading region in the development of the decarbonisation of heat and buildings, a capability that is being strongly promoted by Government globally.
–        We have one of the fastest growing digital sectors which is seeing a sustained influx of businesses choosing the North East as their new home and relocating to the region.
–        We are home to the world’s largest offshore wind farm and the epicentre of innovation in renewables.

I really could go on and on. There is so much to feel positive about and we can look to the future with great confidence.

Grasping the opportunity and turning momentum and confidence into performance is in our hands. The time to capitalise on change really is now.

We need to harness the Government’s ambitions to level up the North East, to develop a compelling plan of action and to pull together as a region to align our collective passion, resources, and energy towards shared endeavour, the achievement of a common goal and to do our bit to making the world a better place.

If you’re a business leader and want to make a real and measurable difference to the North East then get in touch – colin.bell@nelep.co.uk.