Looking to the future of inward investment in the North East Mayoral Combined Authority

By Guy Currey, Director of Invest North East England

As we begin the countdown to Christmas, Invest North East England marked the end of the year with a special event at the Catalyst on Newcastle Helix on Monday 04 December to brief partners and stakeholders about our upcoming move into the new North East Mayoral Combined Authority. It was also an opportunity to celebrate the region’s inward investment successes over the last nine years, our role as the first point of contact for companies looking to locate and invest in the North East, and how key stakeholders can help the Team spread the many positive messages about North East England to potential investors.

There is a lot of excited anticipation around the new Mayoral Combined Authority, and understandably a lot of questions too. Over the next 30 years, the North East devolution deal is expected to provide £4.2 billion of additional investment to the region; including a £1.4bn investment fund alongside significant funding for transport, education and skills, housing and regeneration. Invest North East England will have a key role to play; continuing to showcase North East England’s strengths as a global destination for business, and attracting companies to invest here.

Creating jobs through inward investment

Since Invest North East England started collecting data in 2014, more than 36,000 new jobs have been created through region-wide inward investment activity – 27,408 from foreign direct investment and 8,858 from UK inward investment projects. As a region, we really punch above our weight. Using relative population as a measurement (per 100,000 working age population), in the 2021/22 financial year, North East England was the best performing region for job creation through foreign direct investment. And between 2015/16 and 2022/23, the average annual total of new jobs in the North East region from foreign direct investment was the second largest in England (behind London). In fact it was a huge 88% higher than the rest of England (excluding London).

Region-wide success stories

There are examples in every corner of our region of how inward investment is helping to drive economic growth and bring jobs to the North East. We have to start with the recent announcement from Nissan – one of the UK’s greatest inward investment stories – and its plans to invest up to £3bn in electric vehicle production in Sunderland. Not only will it provide long term security for tens of thousands of existing jobs at the Sunderland plant and across the wider supply chain, it also opens the door for more highly skilled jobs in the electrification sector – a major growth area for the North East economy.

Staying with clean energy, in South Tyneside, the new Dogger Bank Wind Farm operations and maintenance base at Port of Tyne will employ 400 skilled workers for the next 25 years to maintain what will be the world’s largest offshore wind farm. And just as the advanced manufacturing sector in the North East has thrived thanks to investment from companies like Nissan, the supply chain serving the energy sector in the North East is seeing huge growth as our region becomes a major hub for offshore wind and green energy.

Another area where our region excels is health and life sciences. Investment in this sector has traditionally been focused on the ‘the golden triangle’ of London, Oxford and Cambridge, however, we’re now seeing more companies choosing to expand their operations in North East England; taking advantage of our world class infrastructure – including Newcastle Helix and NETPark – and the pipeline of highly skilled STEM students studying at our region’s universities. With specialisms in healthy ageing, advanced therapies and alternative proteins, as well as an established, large-scale medicines manufacturing capability, we have the potential to double the number of jobs and businesses in the sector by 2030.

Looking to the future

So, as you can see, inward investment has an important future in the new Combined Authority. Greater investment in our region and our workforce leads to an increase in skills, higher paying jobs, and a more competitive regional economy. It boosts levels of research and development spending, delivers productivity gains, and increases trade and exports. And recent announcements should give us confidence we can attract more inward investment into the region.

The new £160m North East Investment Zone, for example, means we can grow the Advanced Manufacturing and Green Industries in our region; building on our reputation as the UK’s centre for electric vehicle and battery innovation and manufacturing.

And the launch of the Space North East England cluster, along with the announcement of the £50m North East Space Skills and Technology Centre (NESST) at Northumbria University, provides a unique opportunity to position the North East as the centre for skills, talent, and expertise in this emerging sector of industry.

How you can play your part

Inward investment is essential to the future growth and success of the North East and our reputation nationally and internationally. Businesses that choose to locate or expand in our region create jobs, support wider business growth, and help strengthen our region’s position as a leading destination for global business.

If you’d like to support the work of Invest North East England and play an active role in attracting inward investment to the region, you can find out more here.

This is an exciting time for our region, and I hope you’ll join us in helping create a new future for the North East as part of the Mayoral Combined Authority.

For more information about Invest North East England please visit investnortheastengland.co.uk or email inwardinvestment@northeast-ca.gov.uk.

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