2023 – A year of opportunity for inward investment in North East England

A new year brings a raft of new opportunities for inward investment. With many businesses focussing on growth plans, the possibility of scaling up in a new location is high.

Many people may not know, but North East England has a strong track record in attracting new inward investment – in fact last financial year, it attracted more inward investment jobs than any other region in the UK (when compared to its working-age population).

The spotlight is firmly placed on the region. Recent inward investment successes, new financial investment from overseas, and a continued passion to drive growth, innovation and sustainability across the region, ensures North East England will remain in the spotlight for 2023.

New businesses having expanded to the region or acquired North East companies include tech consultancy Thoughtworks, Cyber Security company Arctic Wolf, and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd, all of which have helped raise the profile of North East England, and as a result more companies are now looking to move on up.

One major opportunity for the North East is the creation of a new North East Mayoral Combined Authority. The deal announced by government in December 2022 will see the region receive over £1.4bn over the next 30 years to help drive the economy and make the region a better place to live and work. And of course, it also means there will be clear economic opportunities for inward investors to seize.

The digital sector in North East England is continuing to grow at speed. The advances of technology, access to investment, centres of excellence and our collaborative approach to business support has supported this rapid growth. 2023 is proving to be a great year to visit the region, and there are several events and programmes happening this year that will provide investors with the perfect occasion to be introduced to regional experts and assets.

For businesses who may be looking to relocate or expand to a new region, there is no better time to visit.

Digital and Tech

Dynamo North East, an industry-led initiative with a mission to ‘Grow the North East Tech Economy’, are partnering with local businesses and supporters to run a tech festival for the North East in June 2023. Full details will be announced soon, but the inaugural festival will follow the successful lead of London Tech Week and aims to champion and promote the region’s tech innovators and bring together regional and national partners.

A further project led by Dynamo aims to promote the digital career paths that are available to local people and to play a role in addressing the skills challenges faced across sectors. The project will raise the profile of regional businesses, digital roles and career opportunities in order to attract the talent they require to further grow. Activity in 2023 will include events, meet ups, the development of new talent pipeline programmes as well as promotion of tech roles and opportunities across the region.

Immersive Tech

PROTO the region’s emerging technology centre has world leading facilities for the immersive, creative and digital sectors. Their new virtual production test stage is now available for businesses to use and enables hands-on experimentation, training and skills development to address gaps that exist today in the creative industry.

The stage, which includes large LED volume and enhanced motion tracking capabilities, will bring renewed interest and opportunities in 2023 for investors to access the equipment through funded events and demonstration sessions, run by the Digital Catapult North East & Tees Valley.

Creative and digital companies will be able to design and develop new content and experiences as well as access academic expertise, locally skilled people and national, as well as regional funding, for R&D projects.


The region has seen increasing numbers of enquiries and successful investments due to the growing cluster of fintech and cyber companies here. Building on this, the North East Fintech community came together last year to partner with Whitecap Consulting on a three-year regional strategy which outlined a plan to create more and better jobs, develop a growth-focused hub, and to increase connectivity at all levels.

The new year will see a regional steering group tackle some of the key challenges highlighted from the report, develop focused activities to remove barriers to growth for local businesses and work towards delivery of the objectives outlined in the strategy.

New and existing investors will have the opportunity to meet the fintech community, share knowledge and ideas, and access unique opportunities by attending some of the planned upcoming events, including Fintech Friends Meet Ups and the Fintech North Newcastle Conference later in the year.

Creative Industries

Many exciting announcements were made last year regarding the creative sector in North East England, bringing a wealth of new opportunities for investors.

The region has ambitious plans, and recent announcements cement the North East’s commitment to the sector. Several ongoing projects include Fulwell73’s intention to build the UK’s largest high-end TV and film studio, the BBC’s £25m investment for the region, plans to create the largest water filled film studio in the world in Sunderland, and North East Screen Industries Partnership between the local and combined authorities, which will invest £11.4m to deliver a new Screen Industries Development Programme.

There is lots to discover in the North East and the region is proud to be hosting the national Creative Cities Convention in Spring 2023. The conference focussed on the TV and Film Industry, will be held in Newcastle on the 26th and 27th April and is a perfect excuse to come to the region and experience it all first hand.

If that wasn’t enough, the North East is one of only six regional partners across the UK to deliver the DCMS funded Create Growth Programme, which supports creative businesses to develop and secure commercial investment opportunities. Creative UK, an independent network for the UK’s creative industries, will be working with partners in the North East to shortly launch a focused business support programme for the region’s creative subsectors.

The programme, linked to a £7m investment programme, is the first part of this investment; and SMEs based in the North East can apply for between £10-30k in grant support before the deadline of 8th February.

Space and Defence

2022 saw some exciting announcements in the space and defence sectors in the North East, including a partnership between Lockheed Martin and Northumbria University, as well as the acquisition of NORSS by Raytheon UK and of Pearson Engineering Ltd by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.

The regional clusters are going from strength to strength with the North East Space Leadership Group continuing to provide support and direction to the sector.

The region’s annual North East Space Conference will once again be returning to Durham this year. Taking place on the 22nd March 2023, the conference will build on the previous years’ successful events with a jam-packed programme and an exciting line up of speakers from some of the fastest growing UK space companies such as the CEOs of PlanetWatchers, Satellite Vu, Space Forge and Charter Space.

On the day, delegates will also hear about some of the latest thinking around Space and Sustainability including space based solar energy to power the grid on Earth, and how satellites are changing the world of digital connectivity and SMART places. With ongoing interest in these areas, as well as local business and academic expertise, there will be lots for investors to learn and discuss.

Thinking of visiting?

Invest North East England is the regional inward investment agency for North East England. Our experienced team can support businesses with their move to North East England and can assist with property searches, introduction to key networks, academic expertise and clusters.

If you are visiting the region this year for an event and you would like to learn more about locating your business – please contact myself or the team a call and we can support your transition to North East England.

Rachel.Burdis@northeast-ca.gov.uk or inwardinvestment@northeast-ca.gov.uk

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