Last week, key figures from across Newcastle, Gateshead, and the wider region, gathered for a one-day conference to tackle the climate change crisis, and discuss how the region can work together to reach its net zero ambitions.
This event was hosted by Invest Newcastle in partnership with global tech consultancy Thoughtworks and marketing and communications consultancy, Streets Consulting. It was held at The Catalyst on Newcastle Helix, a hub of innovation and home to the National Innovation Centre for Ageing and National Innovation Centre for Data, to promote discussion and engagement with the topic of sustainability within strategically important high growth sectors.
Taking place during the second week of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), held in Glasgow this year, the event brought together experts in the areas of finance, clean transport, cities and the built environment, healthcare, and life sciences.
Cllr Clare Penny Evans, Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Public Safety, Newcastle City Council opened the event and was joined by key speakers such as Sir John Burn, Professor of Clinical Genetics and Chairman of the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Charlotte Brown, Chief Commercial Officer at Port of Tyne, Martijn Gilbert, Managing Director of Go North East and Tom Warburton, Interim Chief Executive of Newcastle City Council.
Experts in life sciences and health, finance and data, clean transport and built environment prompted vital discussion including talks from Professor Lynne Corner, Chief Operating Officer, National Innovation Centre for Ageing, Dr Jennine Jonyczyk, Urban Observatory and Eugene Taylor, Director of Commercial Banking, Natwest.
Invest Newcastle is part of NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI), the destination and inward investment agency that delivers for Newcastle, Gateshead, and the wider region.
Sarah Green, Chief Executive Officer, NGI said:
“This event has really demonstrated our regions collective ambition to accelerate sustainability action across our economy. Our fast growing strategically important sectors all have a vital role to play in our sustainable journey and today really shone a light our regions distinctive offer and drive to not only inspire change, but to be the change.
“Our leaders, experts, academics and businesses have the ability to make things happen, but this is by no means an individual effort and can only be achieved through cross-sector collaboration and a whole-city approach. I have no doubt our incredibly talented people, assets and innovations will support us to win the race to net zero.”
Sam Cassidy, Inward Investment Manager at Invest Newcastle, part of NGI, said:
“Cities across the world are taking on the challenge of reducing carbon emissions, in line with the pledges made in the Paris Agreement, and Newcastle is no exception.
“We must lead by example, and this one-day event highlights the level of innovation and collaboration taking place within our city to achieve net zero ambitions. We are also demonstrating the economic opportunities that exist for new investors to join thriving key sectors in our city- for example our world-leading electrification cluster.
“Newcastle Helix is the ideal environment to bring together thought leaders in sustainability; from the home of the National Innovation Centre for Data to the largest publicly available real time urban data in the UK, Newcastle Helix is shaping the connections between ourselves, our infrastructure and our planet.
“The city has invested £50m in a city centre transformation which will see several streets pedestrianised in a bid to reduce carbon emissions and with the recent stream of hotel, restaurant and office developments which will attract even larger numbers into our city centre, this is more important than ever.”
“By working alongside recent investors such as global technology firm, Thoughtworks who are bringing 100 jobs to the region, we can highlight the social and economic benefits of inward investment.”
As new investors, event partners Thoughtworks are looking to make a tangible contribution to the region’s growth; in terms of attracting business, supporting innovation, and investing in the sector’s broader social impact.
Ruth Harrison, Thoughtworks Global Head of Industry Domains, said:
“The unintended consequences of how we build software can have a huge impact on carbon emissions, we must consider the choices we make before making decisions.
“Green Software Engineering is an emerging discipline with principles, philosophies, and competencies to define, develop, and run sustainable software applications. Thoughtworks is a proud founding member of the Green Software Foundation.
“In the exciting new digital economy, software is driving dynamic change, we have a huge opportunity to be at the forefront of positive climate impact if we are considerate about how we build and deploy technology products and services.”
Cllr Clare Penny-Evans, Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Public Safety, Newcastle City Council added:
“Newcastle is a city of innovation, with a history of invention and global advancement, and we aim to be at the vanguard of the new green industrial revolution.
“We’re recognised internationally as a leader in the fight against climate change, and with our ambitious 2030 target for our city to be net zero, we are an attractive proposition for companies who want to invest and place themselves at the forefront of the exciting opportunities that presents.
“The road to carbon neutrality will bring benefits for our residents and the wider world both now and in the future and we aim to support businesses to make our city a UK hub for green innovation.”