Transforming the regional economy image

Member Article

Transforming the regional economy

Peter Arnold, Chief Executive of Newcastle Science City, explains why the city region is well placed to become an economic powerhouse in the UK’s transition to a low carbon nation.

Tyneside has always been synonymous with world class industrial and manufacturing heritage – it was at the cutting edge of the Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century and it looks set to be a major player in the next revolution, the one that will transform us into a low carbon economy.

And a very important year in that transition is upon us. In April, individuals and businesses will be incentivised to install renewable energy infrastructure to supply excess electricity back to the National Grid. Also, Carbon Reduction Commitment legislation comes into force which will penalise larger businesses that fail to address their environmental sustainability and reduce their energy and resource consumption adequately.

These are powerful market drivers and the North East is in a very strong position to make the most of these opportunities. Thanks to designation as a Low Carbon Economic Area, excellent renewable energy potential and state of the art institutes like the New and Renewable Energy Centre (NAREC) it is difficult to think of a more appropriate region. Announcements like Clipper Windpower’s in February that it will be building the next generation of off-shore turbines on Tyneside are those opportunities converted.

While these big announcements undoubtedly position the North East as a low carbon leader, it is the multitude of smaller businesses that will add depth to the economy – and they need assistance and support to get off the ground.

The market for low carbon goods and services is huge – the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills predicts it will hit £4.3 trillion globally in 2015. Much of the demand will be met through small businesses offering niche services and bespoke products.

Despite huge potential, the market is still unchartered water for many; exploring new business opportunities in such an unfamiliar environment can be tricky and, ultimately, off-putting. That means support – whether it is state sponsored funding, intelligence sharing among businesses or mentoring and encouraging new entrepreneurs – will be so vital.

As a designated Science City, this is where Newcastle enjoys another advantage in pursuance of these market opportunities. Through networking, assistance with business development models, access to the latest university research, valuable business coaching and other useful tools and advice, Newcastle Science City is able to provide firms of every size the opportunities they need to develop businesses that will contribute to the long term economic health of the region.

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This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Helen McLoughlin .

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