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Jamie Hardesty

North East capacity for startup success: Where are we and where do we go next?

Newcastle’s Centre for Life recently hosted a new conference which looked to understand and develop the economic landscape within the city and across the North East of England.

Organised by PNE Group, the enterprise development organisation, the inaugural ‘Advancing the North East’ event brought together a panel of experts to discuss strategies that will help promote and improve innovation within North East businesses.

A significant focus of the event looked at how collaboration, strengthening our professional services and leveraging existing assets would power additional economic growth and create more jobs within the region.

The event featured talks from industry leaders including Carole O’Neil, Partner and Human Resources Director at Cundall; David Irwin, Founder of PNE Group and Irwin Grayson; Colin Bell, Business Growth Director at North East LEP and Jacqui Miller-Charlton MBE, Entrepreneur and Ambassador for Brand Britain.

In addition, Scott Dickinson, Associate at SDG Economic Development and co-author of IPPR’s influential ‘Brexit North’ paper presented original research on the evening, setting the context for the event.

Trends and research that Scott discussed included:

  • Traditional industries are becoming more productive with the rise of automation, for example construction saw an increase of 28% GVA, and manufacturing 19%, in the last 8 years. However, the strongest growth in employment came from the ICT sector, which has increased in sector size by 24% and employment by 27%, business services saw growth of 34% and employment is up by 24%
  • Spin off businesses from North East Higher Education Institutions are generating £354,982 per firm, almost twice the national average of £185,538
  • North East outlook on training management is higher than average, with 55% saying it’s a top priority for the business. However, our businesses are 6% less likely to be happy to pay towards training
  • North East businesses find it 50% harder to fill manager roles than the national average

Sixty key stakeholders attended the event, including North East policy makers, academics and thought leaders.

Paul Lancaster, Founder of Plan Digital UK attended the event and commented: “I owe my deep social conscience and passion for helping people start and grow businesses to the time I spent working for the PNE Group between 2005-2012.

“Almost all the great start up activity you can see in Newcastle today can be traced back to the work they’ve been doing since the early 80s.

“The event was a great way to take stock of where we are, how far we’ve come and start the conversation about where we go next!”

PNE Group works to inspire business and drive economic success in the North East.

To date it has worked with over 10,000 businesses and start-ups, supported 80,000 people with their professional development and distributed £15.5m of funds, helping to enable real, positive social and economic change on a personal, local, national or international scale.

Dawn Cranswick, Chief Executive of PNE Group, commented: “The North East is a hugely successful region for business, collaboration and innovation and has a fantastic track record of developing new talent. However, there is always more that we can do to empower businesses and drive forward growth.

“We are therefore delighted to have launched our first conference, ‘Advancing the North East’ – an event that discussed the North East strategic economic plan and the future landscape of the region.

“Together with policymakers, influencers and enablers, we hope that discussions from the event will inspire our local businesses, energise the next generation of leaders and ultimately lay the foundations that will drive forward economic success in the region.”

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