Page 1

ision V 2020

Aiming Higher to plug skills gap

Tyne team

Pages 3&4 August 2012


North East exports: Your toolkit of facts about region’s trade links Pages 20&21


On track after Hitachi deal

Vince Cable meets the businesses leading river’s green revolution: Pages 8-11 OUR 2020 VISION GOLD PARTNERS

NELEP North East Local Enterprise Partnership

Pages 28&29


Can you top our new league table? Pages 30&31


2020 Vision


Wednesday, August 15, 2012 THE JOURNAL


Seize the moment GIVEN the fact that Britain has just played host to the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’, it seems appropriate that there is an unashamedly international feel to this edition of 2020 Vision. For those of you who missed the inaugural edition of the supplement back in June, our aim is to bring together many of the business-led campaigns run by The Journal over recent years as we set out a vision of what the North East economy might look like come 2020. And few campaigns have been more successful – or more integral to the success of the region during recent months – than Go Global, our initiative focused on international trade and, in particular, the drive to increase the level of exports from the North East. Each edition of 2020 Vision features a centre spread full of (hopefully) fascinating and useful facts about the North East economy, and this time we have taken international trade as the theme. Our hope is that these graphics can be useful tools when you are talking about the North East economy, particularly with those based outside the region. It has been widely acknowledged as a source of concern that, since the demise of the regional development agency, a lot of momentum has been lost in terms of the good work that was done on transforming the image of the North East. And one easy way for firms to play their part in addressing this is to talk positively about what it is like to do business in this region – acting as informal ambassadors for the North East. Our first double-page spread of North

East facts and figures was well received and we’re keen to build on that with every edition. If you have any fascinating facts about the North East economy that you feel would be worth featuring in a future edition, then do get in touch. The international trade statistics have been one of relatively few sources of encouragement as the region has struggled to emerge from the recession in recent years. It is now widely advertised that the North East is the only part of the UK that has a positive balance of trade – but it’s an impressive stat that’s worth repeating. I was fortunate to join Business Secretary Vince Cable and CBI director general John Cridland on a recent visit to three businesses located on the banks of the Tyne – a trip designed to showcase the progress that has taken place in the renewable energy sector. You can read more about the trip inside but it’s fair to say that both Vince and John were positively brimming with enthusiasm for the future of the North East economy by the end of it. The Olympic party might be over but the opportunities for global growth remain very real indeed. It’s up to us to seize them.

Andrew Hebden, Editor, 2020 Vision

NELEP North East Local Enterprise Partnership

Sponsors of 2020 Vision giving support with advertising or editorial include: Business Durham, Dickinson Dees, Eversheds, Gentoo, Knight Frank, Newcastle Business School – Northumbria University, Newcastle College, Newcastle University, Nexus, North East Business & Innovation Centre, North East Local Enterprise Partnership, Soil Machine Dynamics, Square One Law, South Tyneside Council, South Tyneside Homes, Sunderland City Council



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

2020 Vision


Strong economies need high level of skills to meet demand CASE STUDY: EMMA BENNISON


Described as a ‘win-win’ situation for employers and ambitious young people, the Higher Apprenticeship scheme is being expanded to include more sectors. KAREN DENT reports on this alternative to university and looks at its value in plugging the skills gap IGHER Apprenticeships were introduced to help employers concerned about looming skills shortages in their industries. Initially, the programme received £25m in Government funding and 19,000 Higher Apprenticeship places were created with 250 employers in the first round. Bids for the second round of the scheme closed in the spring and the Government is currently assessing the applications to create more positions, which educate young people up to degree level while simultaneously equipping them with much-needed skills. David Way, chief executive of the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), said: “An advanced economy needs advanced skills, so we want to improve progression routes through apprenticeships into higher level skills. “For a strong and growing economy we must have a high level of skills to meet employer demand and apprenticeships are vital way of achieving this. “The National Apprenticeship Service is not only committed to increasing the number and range of apprenticeships


on offer, but also to ensuring the quality of apprenticeships, which is so key to this growth.” Rolls-Royce was one of the first companies to look at Higher Apprenticeships and began to introduce them to its apprentice programme in 2006 to develop higher level technical skills among its employees. Graham Schuhmacher, the firm’s head of development services, said: “Rolls-Royce is committed to apprenticeships as they provide people with the foundation required to excel in an engineering career. “Our Higher Apprenticeship programme ensures a crucial supply of higher technician level skills Continued into Rolls-Royce, and par-



EARNING AND LEARNING Emma Bennison at Newcastle University's Institute for Aging

‘I work in different laboratories, learning different techniques’ EMMA Bennison secured her position as a Higher Apprentice at the University of Newcastle’s Institute of Aging after deciding that A-levels were not for her. The 19-year-old from Blyth is now halfway through her four-year apprenticeship, from which she will emerge with a degree as well as the skills necessary for a career as a lab technician.

She said: “I was halfway through my A-levels. I came across this amazing opportunity, I was very lucky. “It entails going to college part time one day a week and working full time the rest of the week. I work in different laboratories, learning different techniques.” Thanks to the apprenticeship, she did a ‘job swap’ with Newcastle

Central MP Chi Onwurah earlier this year. The morning, set up by Emma’s training provider, the North East Chamber of Commerce, involved the MP shadowing Emma’s tasks. “It’s a better option [than going to university]. I’m being trained and I’m being paid, it’s earn and learn.”

Bob Nicholson, technical manager at the Institute for Aging and Health at Newcastle University

2020 Vision


ticipants have the opportunity to gain degree-level qualifications while being paid to learn alongside some of the best engineers in the world.” It is a scheme that Newcastle University is also keen to support and promote. Bob Nicholson is the technical manager at the Institute for Aging and Health at the university’s Faculty of Medicine. He says the scheme benefits both the institute and the young people, who become fully qualified while they are earning. He said: “The young people come in with GCSEs or A-levels, aged 16 to 18. They do a three-year apprenticeship/ trainee scheme and a supernumerary year. They do a foundation degree and day release for two years and then two years top-up to an honours degree. “They have a university laboratory, research and training at the end of the four years, a degree and are a fully trained research technician, plus they get paid for it. “At the end, they go into the jobmarket with a degree and importantly the experience – it’s nice to have someone who can hit the ground running.” The institute has one trainee and there are around half a dozen across the faculty. Securing a place as a Higher Apprentice can be very competitive. “We got 90 applications for two places, all from people who were really good,” said Mr Nicholson. “We whittled them down to about 20 to see them in a hands-on environment, then down to 10 for interview.” The successful appointment was



Wednesday, August 15, 2012 THE JOURNAL

JOURNAL CAMPAIGN THE North East is leading the charge in boosting apprenticeship numbers, helped by the hugely successful 100 Days: the Apprenticeship Challenge, run by The Journal and National Apprenticeship Service (NAS). Just shy of 28,000 apprenticeships have been created in the region in the last two years, a rise of more than 90%. It outstrips the increase of 71% to 383,187 in England over the same period. Around 15,000 places will be available to students in England receiving their exam results this summer. At the end of the 100 Days: the Apprenticeship Challenge, companies in the region had helped to create an additional 2,526 apprenticeship places making the North East the most successful region where the campaign ran. Alan Wallace, head of employer accounts for the NAS, said: “For a strong and growing economy we must have a high level of skills to

Emma Bennison from Blyth. “She’s really good. She’s just finished her foundation degree and is starting day release to top it up to an honours degree,” said Mr Nicholson. The age profile of the technicians at the faculty is going up and people will be retiring shortly, so the skills factor is an issue for the university. But it also faces the problem of public sector funding cuts, which ul-

timately dictates whether it is able to retain the apprentices it has invested so much time and effort in training. “Wherever possible we want to keep them if there’s the funding,” said Mr Nicholson. “We can get home-grown trained people and we would do our utmost to keep them, but it’s not guaranteed. “I would love to keep Emma – she will be a fantastic technician.”

THE remit of Higher Apprenticeships is likely to be widened when the Government announces which bids have been successful for the second round of the scheme. Currently, Higher Apprenticeships are available in the following areas: O Accounting O Business and administration O Contact centre operations

meet employer demand and apprenticeships are a vital way of achieving this. “The National Apprenticeship Service is not only committed to increasing the number and range of apprenticeships on offer, but also to ensuring the quality of apprenticeships, which is so key to this growth. “We were once again overwhelmed by the level of support for the campaign by North East businesses. “Apprenticeships are an extremely cost-effective way of developing staff and offer a significant return on investment.” And NAS says applications for places have jumped since the introduction of more Higher Apprenticeships, helped by plans to ensure every apprenticeship meets rigorous new standards, the launch of a new financial incentive for small firms who hire apprentices and the introduction of a high-profile national annual skills and careers event, The Skills Show.

O Engineering technology O Food and drink O IT, software, web & telecoms professionals O Providing financial advice O Management O Life sciences O Construction operations management O Express logistics

Solar still a good investment DICKINSON DEES AST week, the Feed in Tariff (FIT) rates for solar PV systems were cut for the second time this year, with the average domestic PV system installed after 1 August now receiving 16p/kWh instead of 21p/kWh. The period during which the tariff is paid for new systems has also been reduced from 25 years to 20 Years. However, the export tariff for systems installed from 1 August has increased from 3.2p to 4.5p/kWh. According to the Solar Trade Association, the average domestic installation will still provide over a 9% return on investment. This is better than the 6.3% return targeted by the Government and considerably higher than the interest rates on most bank and building society savings accounts. Therefore, despite the cut in the tariffs, solar still looks like a good investment for homeowners and businesses alike. For property owners and developers installing PV on more than 25 sites, the multi-installation tariff for new PV systems has also been reduced from 1 August. However, the multi- installation tariff will now be only 10% lower than the standard FIT tariff, rather than the 20% used to set the tariff in April. For multiple domestic installations this means a FIT rate of 14.4p/kWh and for commercial installations up to 50kWp, a rate of 12.15p against the standard FIT rate of 13.5p. As a result, the FIT scheme has become a bit more complicated as the FIT rates will be reviewed and could con-


tinue to be cut for new PV installations every three months, starting from November 1. The level of the cut will depend on how much PV has been installed in the previous three months. The more that the PV installed exceeds Government projections, the more the FIT rates will be cut. If the rate of PV deployment is less than projected, however, FIT rates may stay the same. This means some careful planning will be required. To help with this, Ofgem, the regulator of electricity and gas markets in Great Britain, is now publishing monthly figures showing the amount of PV installed. This will help homeowners and businesses to see if Government projections are likely to be exceeded. The Government will also publish any revised FIT rates at least two months before they take effect. If there is to be a reduction in rates from November, the revised rates will therefore be published by the end of August. Over the past year, many homeowners and businesses were put off investing in solar due to the seemingly endless Government reviews of the FIT scheme, changing deadlines and legal challenges. Following the Government’s response to the last of the FIT consultations in July, certainty has now been restored. Although there may be further cuts to the FIT rates, these will be planned cuts and should reflect the reduction in the underlying costs of solar. A system of preliminary accreditation will also be introduced in December which will provide FIT rate guarantees in advance for solar schemes over 50kW and for smaller non-do-


GOOD RETURN The Solar Trade Association says the average domestic installation will provide over a 9% return mestic community energy schemes. As the cost of solar PV continues to fall and energy bills continue to rise, home owners and businesses with

high day time energy use should now be able to look to solar PV as a potential solution with far greater confidence.

Jackie Gray is a director in the energy team at Dickinson Dees law firm, tel: 08449 841 500,



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

2020 Vision


SUPERB LOCATION From left, Port of Sunderland director Matthew Hunt, Coun Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council and Captain Rob Haines of the MV CS Sovereign

Port of Sunderland set fair for offshore investment PORT OF SUNDERLAND UNDERLAND’S flourishing municipal port, its immediate access to the open sea and three kilometres of river and dock berths make the city a superbly located gateway to offshore renewable energy and subsea engineering companies. As part of Sunderland City Council it is at the heart of a strong supply chain which provides technical services, the availability of 264 acres of waterfront land, and traditional port services. The 300-year-old port reported a boost in business in 2012 following a year of growth which has brought many more ships to visit the Port of Sunderland, including HMS Ocean, the Navy’s largest ship, which visited the city for the seventh time this year. Port of Sunderland director Matthew Hunt said: “We welcome all visiting vessel types. There are not many ports from which you can berth and easily walk to the city centre, but in Sunderland you can. It means you can


There are not many ports from which you can berth and easily walk to the city centre, but in Sunderland you can

cater for the welfare needs of the crew very easily, as well as the operational requirements of marine projects.” Ownership strength One of the Port of Sunderland’s greatest strengths is its ownership structure. The port is part of Sunderland City Council and, like many

European ports, the municipal partnership allows it to take a long-term view. Its focus is not all about short-term commercial gain: rather it is part of a wider Sunderland Economic Masterplan, an intrinsic element in the economic well-being of the entire city. Odin Shipping has always worked

closely with the Port of Sunderland and recognises the potential of the vibrant new management structure. Together with the Port of Sunderland they have renewed contracts with one of the world’s leading producers of wood pulp, the Swedish company Södra to facilitate their UK imports. The municipal ownership of the Port is

THE PORT THAT NEVER CLOSES LV Shipping Ltd, a global company specialising in transport and logistics, set up operations in Sunderland when its North East base in Teesside began to fill up. The search for suitable facilities ended at Port of Sunderland which was identified as an ideal location for a number of reasons, not least because the ingenious design of the port means it never closes in bad weather. It has round the clock access, is close to rail and air links

and a short journey into the city centre – all important factors when crew changes are central to your operation. Richard Willis, business development manager of LV Shipping said: “In 20 years I’ve never seen the Port of Sunderland closed because of bad weather, unlike other North East ports.” LV Shipping is particularly keen on the Port’s offshore industry focus as LV’s expertise has

developed through high profile projects for the oil, gas and wind farm construction industries. It is already using Sunderland for exporting sub-sea cables, and recognises that the inner dock in particular is good for smaller ships which service wind farms. The prospect of servicing developments like Dogger Bank is an attractive one for LV Shipping and an ideal opportunity for Sunderland.

Companies such as Odin Shipping and LV Shipping know that the changes underway at the port are due to the active support and commitment from the city council, with the realisation that the port can play a significant long-term role in the economic prosperity of the city. Matthew Hunt recognises the huge opportunities that lie ahead. He said: “We benefit from highly

experienced staff, excellent location and facilities. “The port is well positioned as a potential key location for the emerging offshore renewable energy supply chain. “We have already identified market opportunities for renewable energy at the port and we are pursuing these vigorously. These are exciting, productive times.”

CHOICE LOCATION COUN Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council said: “We have worked hard to get the key ingredients in place at Sunderland to be a choice location for the offshore wind industry. The port’s assets, location and positive attitude mean that offshore businesses will be supported superbly.” The Port of Sunderland is set fair for a bright future in coming years.

an attractive factor for Södra because of the breadth and depth of resources and the long-term approach to development it brings. Vibrant and commercially minded Odin Shipping’s managing director Peter Dickson said: “I know the port has the right people in place and the financial backing behind it to drive it forward. “There is a vibrant atmosphere down here now, we’re moving in a positive direction.” Odin recognises that the port is well-placed to service new developments like Dogger Bank and that the 24 hour deep water berths are an attractive proposition for the offshore industry. Peter Dickson added: “You have to have the right people in place to make things happen. The Board at the Port of Sunderland is made up of the right people, it is commercially minded and makes decisions quickly – that’s imperative in the logistics industry.” O If you would like to find out more about the Port of Sunderland please get in touch with Matthew Hunt, port director, via email at matthew.hunt@, call 0191 553 2131, or visit  


2020 Vision

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 THE JOURNAL

Able’s vision in energy sector will bring new jobs SQUARE ONE LAW EESSIDE entrepreneur and executive chairman of Able Group, Peter Stephenson, has invested over £100m in a wide range of energy assets in recent years and the company is now reaping the benefits of the far-sighted investments which looks set to facilitate the creation of thousands more new skilled jobs. With over £200bn of investment needed in the UK energy infrastructure over the next decade, Billinghambased Able Group, is now strategically placed to capitalise on the business opportunities this presents. Able Group is a multi-role and versatile organisation built on total reliability and respect for the environment, which has developed into a major specialist in the rehabilitation and development of disused sites and facilities. Dock facilities and the decommissioning of offshore structures are just two of the key areas of the business. Within the next few weeks, Peter Stephenson expects to receive final approval for the Able Logistics Park on the South Humber Bank, with two companies already committed to the site. This forms part of the 2,400-plus acre Able Humber Port development. With a development cost of around £400m and a river frontage of more than two and a half miles, this makes it the biggest site available for port related developments in the UK. The cornerstone of this ambitious development is the Able Marine Energy Park (AMEP), which is being developed for the manufacturing, commissioning and installation of offshore wind turbines. It is also envisaged that in the future, as other sustainable energy production methods are developed – such as new “wave technology” – the facility will be well-placed to provide the infrastructure required to deliver these types of project. This 912-acre development is scheduled to be the first of its kind anywhere in the world, and has the potential to facilitate the creation of over 10,000 jobs over the next ten years, as well as a further 40,000 in the supply chain during that time. Peter Stephenson is not one to put all of his eggs in one basket and almost 20 years ago, while owning and running a successful business group, he became aware of some new business opportunities. He said: “Whilst speaking to clients


in the 1990’s he became aware of a future need for more land adjacent to ports. “So for the next few years we spent a great deal of time considering various locations of land with deep water port frontage. “I knew it was the right thing to do at the time, but I was not sure back then what it would be used for, whether it would be logistics, power generation or something else? “The Humber was the ideal place and over the last 15 years we’ve been involved in assembling around 3,000 acres adjacent to the River Humber. This location was chosen due to its ideal location, central UK and central North Sea and it is in the aptly named ‘The Golden Triangle’. “Initially the site was used for car storage and Able Humber Port continues to be used for import and storage by GBA, BMW, General Motors and Kia storing over 60,000 vehicles at peaks. “But then we became aware of the demand for the renewable energy sector – and in particular the exciting developments in the emerging UK offshore wind sector. The sites at Dogger Bank, Hornsea and East Anglia alone will require a total of 5,000 turbines and Able’s Marine Energy Park – the largest part of the Humber Enterprise – is ideally placed for access to these wind farm sites.” In the first quarter of 2012 the contribution of renewables to the UK energy mix amounted to 11% which is the highest ever, and sets the UK on target to hit its target of 15% by 2015. The growth of onshore wind has helped with this, but for the 2020 target of 20% renewable energy to be achieved, much will have to be delivered by offshore wind. Able Group is attracting major players in the renewable sector to facilitate the development of a ‘world-scale’ manufacturing cluster on one huge site, allowing for increased specialisation and significant reductions in logistics costs and project lead-time. The vision is to create a cluster of companies involved in manufacturing offshore wind turbines on AMEP. This will mean those making the towers will be alongside those making the jackets, the blades, the foundations, the generators and nacelles. Able Group are also talking to two colleges to create training facilities on site to provide the specialist welding and inspecting skills needed for this sector. AMEP will provide around 1,500 metres of new deep-water quays and,

TEAMWORK IMPORTANT Peter Stephenson, executive chairman, Able Group, centre, with Barney Frith, left, in characteristically pioneering mode, is one of the first and largest ‘nationally significant’ projects to experience the new planning process spawned by the 2008 Planning Act to provide an effective ‘fast-track’ for major infrastructure projects. Peter said: “The benefit of the Humber is that it’s a great location being central to the UK and North Sea with a

The vision is to create a cluster of companies involved in manufacturing offshore wind turbines on AMEP

wide (3000m) deep water river frontage. “There are a lot of environmental as well as economic benefits to the Application including steel plate availability from TATA local works at Scunthorpe and, with a critical mass of like-minded companies on the same site, it will also speed up the research and development process.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

and Ian Gilthorpe, right, of Square One Law “Offshore wind in the UK has the potential to be even bigger than the oil and gas industry which currently employs 450,000 people. “This is a different type of industry a serial production version of Oil and Gas if you like and much more like a car plant than a one-off fabrication yard.” Attached to AMEP is the 1,229-acre

Able Logistics and Business Park. It has already signed up two clients both attracted by the site’s close proximity to the Hornsea Wind farm, adjacent to the mouth of the Humber Estuary. Able Group is also currently undergoing a major refurbishment programme, to further enhance its presence in the oil and gas sector, at its North East base – Able Seaton Port – on

2020 Vision

the north bank of the River Tees, which was acquired in 1995. The company is spending another £20m on upgrading the dry dock with the installation of a new 20,000t dock gate. This is set to revitalise what is one of the world’s largest dry docks and provide a wholly flexible facility that will attract much-needed new economic activity to the area. In 2009 a

new 300m deep water heavy duty quay was completed which provides – at 38t and 65t per square metre – one of, if not Europe’s heaviest load out capacity. Able sees increasing potential in securing contracts for the upgrade and maintenance of oil and gas drilling rigs and floating production facilities as well as new construction, in particular gravity base structures for foundations for the offshore wind farms. It is currently in discussions for contracts value over £400m. Peter said: “We are seeing a lot of growth and keep enhancing our efforts in the oil and gas sector. “Following the recent favourable changes to the UK tax regime, exploration activity in the North Sea is reaching levels not seen for some years, in fact, there was more exploration for oil and gas last year than in any previous years. This is being driven by the relatively high price of oil and improving recovery techniques. “For at least the next five years we expect this sector to continue to be buoyant.” At the company’s headquarters -– the former power station site at Billingham Reach – GAIA Power Tees Valley has planning permission for a 50mw biomass power station and also on the North Bank of the River Tees, on the site of a former oil refinery, Able Clarence Port, also has planning permission for a 50Mw biomass power station. Completing the energy mix, at Able Thorpe Marsh, just north of Doncaster, a planning permission is now in place for a 1,500MW gas power station. Demolition works are under way to remove the six cooling towers using a new method that does not use explosives and the new construction is due to start next year. Able Middlesbrough Port – next to Middlesbrough FC’s Riverside Stadium – is also attracting interest from companies across a number of sectors. Able Group is currently in talks with companies in the wind industry including cable-laying companies and offshore oil and gas firms interested in moving onto the 40-acre fully serviced facility. Peter added: “With the major expansion in North Sea oil and gas exploration coupled with the opportunities in the renewable sector, make these very exciting times for Able Group.” Ian Gilthorpe of Square One Law said: “I first met Peter at a business dinner in Newcastle 20 years ago. It was very clear even from that first meeting that he had an amazing vision of how he was going to develop his company and I have been delighted to work with him on many of Able’s projects. In fact their secret has always been to take a long-term strategic view – something that is very welcome (and productive) at a time when many businesses are only concerned with quick fixes.” Able Group was one of Square One Law’s first clients and Peter Stephenson was attracted to the firm on the basis of his previous experience of working with Ian and Ian’s attitude to service combined with the quality of the Square One Law team. Peter Stephenson added: “In our business it’s people that make the difference. When we find a good person – a person like Ian, who knows his stuff and provides a good professional knowledgeable service, then we want to employ them to support us developing our business. “Business is about the quality and skills of the people you are working with, and I have been in business long enough to know how important it is to have a strong and trusted team of professional advisers and employees around you.”

Aker Solutions appoints Square One Law on largest UK letting this year SQUARE One Law has recently acted for international oil services giant, Aker Solutions, on the completion of one of the largest prelets in London since 2007. Aker Solutions provides oilfield products, systems and services for customers in the oil and gas industry worldwide. The company employs 3,100 people in the UK and has a workforce of 25,000 across 30 countries. Aker Solutions aims to build up a 1,700-strong London engineering hub, creating 1,300 new jobs by 2015, as growth in global oil and gas markets drives demand for the company's technologies and services. The company recently signed an agreement to lease the entire 220,000 square feet of Building 6 at Chiswick Park, London. Landlord, Blackstone, commented that it is the largest UK letting in

NEW LEGAL MODEL Simon Priestley, head of property, Square One Law almost a year and one of the largest prelets in five years at Chiswick Park. Simon Priestley, head of property at Square One Law said: "When we pitched for the work in February, Aker Solutions were very interested in our new legal model. We have the skills and knowledge to provide the quality service it requires and by working with our construction consultant, Anna Rabin, we can keep our overheads low and create value whilst still offering a seamless service. Anna will be doing the construction work and has already started on a £10m fit out contract for the building.” Aker Solutions' operations director, Mike Smith said: “ The service that Simon and his team have given us, and continue to give us has been outstanding, both in terms of quality and personal response and at a cost that no London firm could possibly match." Simon commented: "The new expanded London office of Aker Solutions will provide a global engineering hub to support field development projects for the North Sea and worldwide. The company has stated that it expects to grow its turnover by 9-15% per annum from 2011-2015. “It's a great win for Square One Law and demonstrates that regional firms can deliver the quality of service and provide more cost effective solutions."



2020 Vision

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 THE JOURNAL

Why river is the natural place to start our rebirth

AT THE FOREFRONT Andrew Hodgson of SMD in Wallsend


If the Great North Revolution is to happen, the River Tyne will stand at the centre of it. ANDREW HEBDEN joined Business Secretary Vince Cable and CBI director general John Cridland last month on a mission to find out what it might look like T Westminster, sharp-suited former Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond is giving evidence to MPs about the Libor fixing scandal that has just cost him his job. Meanwhile, beneath grey skies on the drizzly banks of the River Tyne, Business Secretary Vince Cable, dressed in a hard hat and electric blue latex gloves, is standing atop a huge anaerobic digestion facility which is turning millions of tonnes of sewage into energy. If this is what the Government means by re-balancing the economy, it certainly isn’t glamorous. But the fact that Cable is missing the much-anticipated appearance by the new poster boy of the financial crisis for a date in the North East suggests he, for one, is committed to the agenda. Cable has been brought here by the CBI to coincide with the publication of a new report, The Colour of Growth: Maximising the Potential of Green Business, and its director general John Cridland is leading the whistle-stop tour of the Tyne. The theme is the rebirth of the river and, in particular, the role that green industries are playing in its renewal as a centre of industry. As far as engine rooms of the economy are concerned, they don’t come much more impressive than SMD. A long-established name on the banks of the Tyne, the company has enjoyed remarkable growth in recent years since a private-equity backed £70m buy-out of the business in 2008.


On the day of Cable and Cridland’s visit to the firm’s impressive Wallsend headquarters, representatives from Inflexion, SMD’s private equity owners who also own the youth fashion retailer Jack Wills, were also being shown around the site. The Wallsend facility might not be decked out in images of teenage models like Jack Wills shops, but there’s plenty of large machinery to feast your eyes on. SMD chief executive Andrew Hodgson, meanwhile, is fast emerging as something of a poster boy of the industrial renewal of the North East, speaking with a passion about what needs to be done if the region is to achieve its potential. “We have the drive, the technology and the sustainable businesses,” he enthuses on the shop floor as Vince Cable chats to two of his latest apprentices who enthusiastically explain why they chose a career in manufacturing. “Modern manufacturing is about intellect and intelligence,” says Hodgson, who points to the fact that half of his staff have degrees – all at least at grade 2:1 and the majority from Newcastle and Cambridge universities. “I’m not just interested in low-tech unsustainable jobs because I think we have fallen into the trap before as a region and we’ve suffered the consequences of that.” SMD might seem an unlikely first stop on a tour highlighting the renewable energy sector – the firm has been around since the 1970s when it pioneered the design and manufac-

OPPORTUNITIES Vince Cable and CBI director general John Cridland visit the North East

Perceptions of the North East are much more positive than in the past. The opportunities here are considerable

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


ture of seabed ploughs for the emerging North Sea oil and gas industry. These days, however, as well as its traditional markets, SMD is gearing up for the growth of offshore wind which already accounts for 30% of its export orders. The firm is looking to adapt technologies such as its Remotely Operated Vehicles to work across a range of opportunities in the sector, including design, manufacture, installation and maintenance. But Hodgson’s primary concern is how he is going to find the workforce to fill his expanding facilities on the banks of the Tyne – employee numbers have grown threefold to 490 in just three years. He believes part of the answer is in opening the eyes of local youngsters to what goes on behind the sheds’ huge corrugated metal walls. “In Wallsend, how many kids really know what a company like SMD actually does,” he ponders. “That’s why we put our staff into the local academy and why we have built a classroom facility here where they can do their science and Continued technology lessons.” It sounds like “rebalan-


2020 Vision

WHISTLESTOP TOUR Vince Cable chats to CEO Andrew Hodgson, right, by an ROV at Soil Machine Dynamics (SMD) production facility in Wallsend



2020 Vision

cing the economy” meets “the Big Society”, so no wonder Vince Cable is enthused by what he’s hearing about. The message delivered at the scene of his next visit is less encouraging for the Business Secretary, however. Offshore Group Newcastle (OGN) is a relatively new name to Tyneside’s business community but it has wasted little time in making a splash. The company deals in the fabrication sector – the less glamorous side of the offshore business – but one that is nevertheless crucial to the North East in terms of the number of jobs it can support. OGN acquired the Hadrian’s Yard site two years ago and, having secured a £150m contract from Apache Corporation to build a 10,000-tonne bridge-linked platform for the US operator’s Forties field in the North Sea. What had been a vast car park for Nissan vehicles awaiting export was quickly transformed into a bustling construction site which, on the day of our visit, was dominated by the huge platform which was nearing completion. Cable’s visit provided an opportunity to show off OGN’s potential to capitalise on the opportunities in the renewable energy sector. Its ambitious plans include developing a 36,000sq metre offshore wind fabrication facility where it can build up to 150 wind turbine foundation jackets every year. But chairman Dennis Clark wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to quiz the Business Secretary about what he believes have been missed opportunities for the oil and gas supply chain in the past. He told Cable that the firm was in the process of shedding 350

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Yes, I think these firms do have a moral responsibility to award contracts to UK firms

jobs which could have been saved if companies such as BP and Shell had handed lucrative contracts to UK firms instead of placing them overseas. Clark said afterwards: “We told the Secretary of State for Climate Change, Ed Davey, about this and he has lobbied on our behalf. The UK Government awards these licences and, yes, I think these firms do have a moral responsibility to award contracts to UK firms. “If we were in Norway it would not be a problem, they do not allow work to go out of Norway for their offshore, unless they are full. That is what happens. The Shell inquiry came too late for these jobs, but it is exactly what is wrong with the industry right now.” Cable, himself a former Shell employee, admitted he had been sur-

BUSINESS TALK John Cridland, Sarah Green and Heidi Mottram prised by the news and promised to do what he could to address the issue. “One of the things that came across very strikingly certainly from the oil platforms business was that the supply chains in the UK haven’t been developed in the past as they should have been,” he told The Journal. “Big contracts have slipped through and gone abroad and if the industry had been operating in a completely integrated way, like the car industry, then that might not have happened. “We are trying to plug that gap and making sure that we think about

suppliers in an integrated way.” Cable was less forthcoming on how he intended to address the other major gripes raised by Clark – such as the issue of the capacity of the national grid which, as it stands, will be unable to bring ashore the energy created by the vast new offshore windfarms planned for the North Sea. The pace of decision-making relating to the renewables sector – epitomised by the delays surrounding the new Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) regime – was also a source of frustration. The North East Chamber of Commerce

agrees that such delays in decision making could scupper the North East’s ambitions to become a world leader in the green energy sector. Chamber policy adviser Mark Stephenson recently wrote a letter to ministers, such has been the level of concern amongst its members about the issue. “At present a woeful cocktail of indecision, procrastination, and misunderstanding about what investors need is hampering the creation of much-needed jobs and wealth for UK Plc, and at a time of huge economic uncertainty,” he wrote. Andrew Hodgson agreed that it wasn’t so much the level of subsidies government was willing to offer the sector, but more the importance of long-term policy making and consistency. “Varying the system like this creates uncertainty for the industry and that delays investment,” he said. “I think the investment will happen but the Government effectively has to decide how fast it wants to see that growth, and if it gives a clear signal of clarity and certainty then the jobs and growth will come faster.” Addressing an audience of CBI members at the offices of law firm Ward Hadaway on the Quayside in Newcastle, John Cridland said of the green energy sector: “I don’t think we’ve got our heads round what an opportunity this is.” He admitted that the concept of an industrial policy came with “historical baggage” but said there needed to be an acknowledgement that, as a national economy, “we can’t be good at everything”. “We need to identify those clusters


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PANORAMIC VIEWS On top of a tank at Northumbria Water's Waste Treatment Plant in Howdon. From left, Heidi Mottram of NWL, Vince Cable and John Cridland of competence that give us the opportunity to be world class,” he said. The CBI’s Colour of Growth report warns that the Government’s current approach risks the UK missing out on reaching its potential, claiming a green business slowdown could cost the UK £400m in net exports in 2014/15. “With something like a third of all our growth accounted for by green business last year, the UK could be a global front-runner in the shift to low-carbon. In the search for growth, we’re digging for goldmines – and one of them is green,” said Cridland. “Get our energy and climate change policies right, and we can add £20bn extra to our economy and knock £0.8bn off the trade gap, all within the lifetime of this Parliament.” And for the North East in particular, Cridland added, this presents a huge opportunity – hence the decision to launch the report with a visit to the region. “The North East is a designated low-carbon area and the only part of the UK that has a positive trade balance,” he said. “Perceptions of the North East are much more positive than in the past. There is a feeling that the opportunities here are genuine and considerable. “The businesses here are good to work with and invest in. After a generation of challenges, much of what is here now is potentially world class, robust and solid.”


ONLINE Read more about the Great North Revolution campaign at www.nebus

SAMPLES Heidi Mottram, chief executive of Northumbrian Water, explains how the new plant operates

“POWER from poo,” is how Heidi Mottram describes it. Thankfully Vince Cable has just finished his sandwiches. The Business Secretary was enjoying a spot of lunch before his tour around the new £35m anaerobic digestion facility at Northumbrian Water’s treatment centre in Howdon, and the firm’s chief executive took the opportunity to explain what he was about to witness. This may be the less photogenic side of the North East’s renewable energy revolution (although critics of wind turbines would argue they’re an incomparable blot on the landscape), but this is nonetheless an example of where the Great North Revolution is happening right here, right now. Northumbrian Water is rightly proud of its reputation as Britain’s greenest water company, and Cable soon learned that this isn’t a case of window-dressing for the sake of boosting the Hong-Kong-owned firm’s sustainability criteria. The heavy investment in Howdon follows the success of a similar AD facility on Teesside in 2009. By the end of this summer, the firm will have the capacity to process all of the effluent it produces into energy. The new AD facilities are expected to play a major part in meeting Northumbrian Water’s goal of cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by 35%against 2008 levels by 2020.



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AHEAD OF THE GAME Gentoo were named as one of the first aspiring Green Deal Providers by energy and climate change minister Greg Barker

Warming up the region ahead of the Green Deal GENTOO ARLIER this year the North East lost out to Edinburgh in the race to host the newly incorporated Green Investment Bank (GIB), despite four different bids from around the region. Although some may argue that a joint approach from bidding cities would have strengthened an overall regional bid for the bank, Newcastle, Durham, Sunderland and Tees Valley all submitted extremely competitive bids. Despite missing out on the GIB to Scotland, the region boasts one of the most extensive low-carbon economies in the UK and is still well-placed to benefit from the sector as it aims to benefit from major investments in offshore wind, biotechnology, low-carbon vehicle manufacturing and the Green Deal. The Green Deal – the Government’s flagship scheme that will improve the energy efficiency of both homes and commercial properties – is set to boost the North East economy significantly over the next few years with the help of Warm Up North. Led by a group of local authorities from around the region, Warm Up North is designed to help homes and businesses save money on their energy


bills, to reduce energy consumption, to help the environment and to create hundreds of employment opportunities across the low-carbon industry. One organisation that has already identified the Green Deal as an opportunity for the region is North East-based people, property and planet business Gentoo. Named by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) as one of the businesses that will work towards becoming one of the first accredited Green Deal Providers, Gentoo is in an excellent position to help the region capitalise on the opportunity presented by the Green Deal. With the cost of fuel continuing to rise and the detrimental effect this has on household energy bills, the significance of energy-saving measures that are able to be retro-fitted to properties is bigger than it may have ever been before.

The findings from our pilot scheme demonstrate there is a strong demand for the Green Deal in the North East

DEMAND: 79% of Gentoo’s customers chose to participate in their Green Deal pilot scheme, which included the installation of solar PV to homes Around 20% of the region’s homes are deemed to be fuel poor – whereby they are spending more than 10% of their annual household income on their energy bill – but with the help of the Green Deal and the associated Energy Company Obligation, thousands of homes can be lifted out of fuel poverty across the region. Gentoo has already delivered a largescale Green Deal pilot scheme across 1200 of its own homes in Sunderland

and the consumer response to the scheme has been very positive – with 79% of households showing a desire to participate. Graham Smith, green operations director at Gentoo said: “We’ve been actively working with DECC to shape the policy around the Green Deal for a couple of years now and are really excited to see it roll out across the North East. “We believe it is a great way to take forward the carbon and fuel poverty

challenges facing the region, while simultaneously stimulating the North East economy through the creation of hundreds of jobs and upskilling of our existing construction and customer service workforce. “The findings from our own Green Deal pilot scheme are extremely optimistic and in fact demonstrate that there is a strong demand for the Green Deal in the North East.” Jonathan Coxon



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Engagement and insight – the next 10 years NORTH EAST BIC t is generally accepted that in order to sustain innovative developments it is vital to research the market; this area itself is not often associated with innovation. One organisation determined to prove otherwise is market research company Explain which has been at the forefront of market research innovation for 20 years and working with digital partner Better has recently launched a completely new way of engaging and researching different market sectors with customers. Looking to invest in new approaches to market research using online platforms and Smartphone apps, Explain has joined the Innovation Programme. The product, marked as Better Communities, capitalists on the growing use of social media and harnesses digital technology to provide a platform by which organisations can engage with their customers. Unlike Twitter or Facebook, the customer is invited by an organisation to join a private community so that they can exchange ideas and comments without competitors keeping tabs on the latest thinking and pool of ideas. Market research companies have used panels of customers for insight and feedback over many years but the benefit of Better Communities is that it allows complete transparency so that the customer can start the process and debate, not just the sponsor, that is a huge step in innovation. David Shiel, managing director of Explain, said: “By tapping into innovation we can develop digital focus groups which make it so much easier to engage with our customers and stakeholders without the usual constraints of time and location planning. “Our experience has been that retail, utility and social housing companies all quickly seized the opportunity to take a giant step forward in their knowledge about the customer. “Having access to a massive database of customers reduces the cost of research and provides better, faster information.” Chris Hylton, innovation manager (interim)at the North East Business and Innovation Centre, said: “It is an exciting time on the programme, welcoming companies like Explain on board. “Explain are a great example of an innovative company, the business constantly evolves into new ways of market research and this is illustrated by the longevity of the company. “I look forward to seeing how the company can evolve over the next three years using the programme.”


The business constantly evolves into new ways of market research and this is illustrated by its longevity

INNOVATORS David Shiel, MD of Explain, and Mark Easby, MD of Better. Explain and Better have created market research tool Better Communities

Innovation welcomes trio to its dynamic team he North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC), a regional enterprise agency and business complex is continuing to grow with the appointment of three new members of staff to the Innovation Programme. Lilla Preston is welcomed as innovation project officer. Lilla will be helping to increase the understanding of the innovation process to enable businesses to turn their ideas into real benefits. In her new role, Lilla will be drawing from her experience as a business adviser as well as international trade adviser for the Business and Enterprise Group. Lilla said: “I am excited to work with such a welcoming team and the chance to work with North East businesses who want to improve through innovation. I truly believe that innovation will lift the economy out of the recession and I am looking forward to


working with these businesses.” Chris Hylton joins Lilla as he steps into Elizabeth Shaw’s role as innovation manager (interim) whilst Elizabeth enjoys maternity leave. Chris has a background in Industrial Engineering and first worked freelance for the BIC in 2003 on product development and other projects, including helping to establish the BIC’s Big Ideas Centre. Chris commented: “It is fantastic to be back at the BIC, it has grown phenomenally since I was last here but the same commitment to helping businesses prosper is evident everywhere. It is embedded in the culture and is reflected in the professionalism of all the staff. “I am keen to get started in helping existing businesses develop their innovation potential.” Christopher Neil Bland also comes on board as digital marketing assistant. Christopher will be supporting

the Innovation Programme by helping to develop and maintain the website working alongside the marketing team. Christopher was previously self employed as a freelance web designer which included creating, managing and hosting websites for clients. Christopher said: “I enjoy the variety that every day brings. I love meeting new people and after working many part-time jobs it is refreshing to wake up every morning and like what I do.” Innovation manager Elizabeth Shaw said: “I am delighted to welcome our new recruits to the BIC and the Innovation Programme, their knowledge, experience and enthusiasm will help the programme to grow and maintain the excellent reputation in helping businesses unlock their full potential.” O For more information about the Innovation Programme contact the team on 0191 516 6021 or visit

NEW ROLES Chris Hylton, Lilla Preston and Christopher Neil Bland


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GROWING BUSINESS Work class remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) made by Andrew Hodgson's company SMD at its i19 ROV production facility in North Shields

Skills champion SMD we have a defined route for apprentices. Somebody can start with us at 16 or 18 and, if they have the ability and desire, can go all the way through to a Master’s degree.

NELEP Andrew Hodgson, chief executive of Soil Machine Dynamics (SMD) and Vice Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP), discusses the importance of investing in people and what has inspired him

You lead on skills and employment for the NELEP; do you have any advice for young people today? The greater the level of skills you have, the richer your life will be. Young people need to think carefully about what it is that they want to do and what they want to experience during their careers. Many are dissuaded from studying engineering because they think it’s too difficult. The way I look at it, the world is a big place. There are a lot of people in poverty. To achieve a better standard of living, people need energy, resources and access to minerals. The people who can assist them with this are engineers. So, if you want to change the world, be an engineer.

What is the most important factor in expanding a medium-sized company? Managing talent and capability within the business, and encouraging people to do the right things. SMD has grown from a £40m to a £140m business in three years because we have the right people. What is your view on the role of apprenticeships? I think apprenticeships are sometimes regarded as a second-class opportunity. We need to recognise that people can gain valuable skills through vocational training schemes, as well as through higher education. At


What motivates you? I strive to do something every day that makes things a little bit better than they were the day before.

Andrew Hodgson Who was the greatest teacher in your life and why?

Mrs Courtier. I was about eight years old and she had a way of teaching maths that made me see things in a completely different way. I am always learning a lot from colleagues. I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with some remarkable people, for example, Sir Philip Hampton (chairman of RBS), who I worked for during my mid-20s. I still rely on the concepts and principles he shared with me. Who or what would you take to a desert island? My wife. She is the only person who understands what motivates and drives me. She keeps me sane. What makes you laugh? My children make me laugh more than anything. What do you like most about the North East? There are a lot of great things about the North East: brilliant beaches, vibrant cities and wonderful countryside. Ultimately, if I had to choose one thing, it would be the people. If you took a group of people from the North East and put them anywhere in the world, they would make it a better place.


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Testing new approaches to economic growth in our rural communities NELEP ELEP was delighted to be chosen earlier this year by Defra to deliver one of only five national pilot Rural Growth Network programmes. The NELEP bid, submitted via the North East Farming and Rural Advisory Network, proposes a number of new approaches to support the growth of small business with a particular focus on more remote, upland communities across the North East. The Rural Growth Network pilot encompasses the rural areas of County Durham, Gateshead and Northumberland and is being administered by Northumberland County Council. A major new grant scheme will enable the development and trial of


new forms of workspace for micro businesses in identified enterprise hubs. In Middleton-in-Teesdale, for example, plans are being prepared to create new space at the Auction Mart and in Wooler a ‘smart work centre’ will create shared accommodation for micro enterprises, self-employed and also allow employees to work from remote loc-

Small and particularly micro business are the lifeblood of our rural communities

ations, reducing the need to travel providing cost and environmental benefits. Funds will also be utilised to create a programme of enterprise support, including specific activity aimed at the development and growth of women led enterprises, across the rural growth network area. Paul Woolston, chair of North East LEP, said: “NELEP welcomes the formation of NEFRAN as a strong, business led voice for rural areas. We believe that NEFRAN’s successful work to attract Rural Growth Network pilot funding to the North East area represents a significant opportunity for businesses to develop and grow within designated Enterprise Hubs. This activity will complement and contribute to NELEP’s goals of achieving economic growth across

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and County Durham. We look forward to working closely with NEFRAN partners on developing innovative approaches to promoting enterprise and job creation opportunities in the future” Anthony Braithwaite, chair of NEFRAN, has been instrumental in bringing rural and agricultural businesses together with the three local authorities in preparing the bid. He said: “This novel programme of support brings together a mix of public-private sector-led interventions that will help to re-balance the economy of our more remote rural communities and target investment in growth sectors. “Small and particularly micro business are the lifeblood of our rural communities and in these difficult times it is important that those with high growth potential

can access the support they need to realise their ambitions and to help create local employment opportunities.” In addition, a complementary bid has been submitted to Defra seeking £1m from the RDPE Rural Economy Grant programme to provide grant support to micro businesses with growth prospects. Paul Woolston said: “Access to finance can often be a significant barrier for many micro businesses and we want to target this fund to specific sectors and to those businesses who are committed to growing and investing in our rural communities”. Further information on the programme will appear in the autumn on the NELEP website. In the meantime contact Ray Browning, Rural Growth Network manager email: ray.browning@

SPACE Gibside workshops – one of several rural hubs to be promoted by the North East RGN Programme



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Engineering excellence recognised SMD HE past months have been full of recognition for SMD; a world leading Wallsendbased company. In June SMD was formally presented with a second consecutive Queen’s Award for Enterprise by the Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear. The Lord Lieutenant, Nigel Sherlock, presented the Queen’s Award in the international trade category as part of a visit to SMD’s head office and manufacturing facilities in Wallsend, North East England. The company is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of remote intervention equipment, which is operated in hazardous environments across the globe. As part of the visit the Lord-Lieutenant was given a tour of SMD’s heavy production facilities where he viewed some the of the company’s latest trenching vehicles. SMD’s latest development, the Atom work class ROV system, has been exported to customers in South East Asia and the Mediterranean. The Atom is an ultra-compact work class ROV, which is


suitable for subsea drill support, inspection, repair and maintenance, survey and light construction and can be mobilised on vessels and rigs with limited deck space. The company has expanded rapidly, increasing its workforce from 136 in 2010 to nearly 500, and opening four new sites in and around Wallsend. This is the second Queen’s Award the company has won in the last two years. In 2011, SMD was presented with the Queen’s Award for Innovation for its work class ROVs. Andrew Hodgson, chief executive of SMD, said: “Winning consecutive Queen’s Awards for Enterprise is an outstanding achievement for the company and recognition of the exceptional work of our team. We were delighted to welcome the Lord Lieutenant who was very impressed by the progress the company has made since we won the Queen’s Award for Innovation in 2011. “We have achieved significant growth in recent years through the penetration of international markets and new and existing industry sectors, which has enabled the continued ex-

QUEEN’S AWARD SMD boss Andrew Hodgson receiving his award from the Lord Lieutenant, Nigel Sherlock pansion of our workforce and investment in new facilities and innovative manufacturing processes.” July saw the company receive visits from the business sceretary Vince Cable MP and Linda Arkley, mayor of North Tyneside. John Cridland from the Confederation of British Industry joined Vince

Cable on his tour of the Turbinia Works heavy production facility. Vince Cable said: “Manufacturing is extremely important for the British economy. “This company, like others see a great deal of future in developing the technologies around offshore wind development, and I think it

has a great future.” The mayor of North Tyneside’s visit focussed on the company’s most recently opened sites on the Oceana Business Park in Wallsend, which will house the design and production of the world’s first subsea mining vehicles.



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Opportunities created by an ageing society – care and support NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY BACKGROUND s part of its Newcastle Initiative on Changing Age (NICA), Newcastle University is creating an environment where businesses can collaborate with the University to create solutions that meet the needs of an ageing society. The combination of business, research and public input has the potential to help make the North East the best place to be for companies to develop age-inclusive solutions for their customers.


INCREDIBLE OPPORTUNITY THE UK population is ageing at an astonishing rate bringing huge challenges - as society ages how will people maintain their quality of life and independence? However, this also brings great opportunities as the over 50s in the UK own 80% of the wealth but only receive 10% of marketing spend. There is an incredible opportunity for organisations to deliver products and services which increase people’s quality of life as they age whilst helping build sustainable business models. One of many good examples of this is the University’s work with Diagonal Alternatives and Living Well North


HEARING Tom Kirkwood, Newcastle University’s Associate Dean for Ageing speaking about the opportunities created by this changing society was one of the key inspirations that shaped Christine Savage’s thinking about developing services to help people keep their independence as they age. The University has provided access to its unique age-focused research and expertise and helped Christine start the development of two business initiatives, including a new innovative company called Diagonal Alternatives. Newcastle University has encouraged the company’s development through its inititiative, Changing Age for Business, supported by the

WORKING TOGETHER Mike Morgan (second from left) with the Living Well North team which aims to help individuals maintain their independence European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Christine has a strong business background having led a specialist housing company and taught at Newcastle University Business School. She was aware of the fact that society is ageing and that there is a need for better quality care provision. Working with Newcastle University has provided her with the detailed evidence and knowledge to help her and business partner, Bob Nelson. He has a track record of developing and owning care businesses and together they have created the new company, Diagonal Alternatives, to meet these growing needs. “We are now aware of quite how enormous the opportunity is and how well-positioned we are to develop our business with the support of the Changing Age for Business Programme.” Christine Savage

NEW COMPANY – NEW SERVICES THE forming of this new company, Diagonal Alternatives, is a great success story for the North East, creating 33 paid positions so far, and continuing to recruit and train many more

THE CHANGING AGE FOR BUSINESS PROJECT The Changing Age for Business project benefits from £2.1 million of European Union investment from the ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007-13, managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government. The ERDF Programme is bringing over £300m to support innovation, enterprise and business support across the region.

staff. Most importantly it is a business which will deliver services to improve people’s quality of life as they age. “The numbers of people who need some assistance to live well and independently at home are growing significantly and these people are our customers. We work hard to recruit and train the right employees, so that we have a professional workforce - and our customers choose their staff team, which they expect to do, as customers. We are creating satisfying jobs, and often recruiting older people looking for a second career, providing them with a professional qualification.” Bob Nelson


IDEAS Changing Age for Business activity at the Biomedical Research Building on the Campus for Ageing & Vitality

THE University has also helped Diagonal Alternatives consider a more holistic client-focused approach. The realisation that individuals need a whole range of services to help navigate through the complex environment that we all face as we age has led the company to build a network of organisations called Living Well North, covering a wider range of services. Helping optimise an individual’s independent lifestyle, these include financial advice, legal assistance and building modifications. This network consists of Carr & Co (Legal), CI Ac-

countancy Limited, Diagonal Alternatives (Care and Support), Dolphin Stairlifts, Rutherford Wilkinson Ltd (finance) and Shape Adaptations. “We are impressed with the progress that Living Well North has made. Not only have each of the companies shown innovation in providing age inclusive services, by collaborating they have demonstrated an even greater level of innovation which will help provide better services and business growth. This is a great outcome for the support from the University’s Changing Age for Business initiative.” Mike Morgan, business development manager, Newcastle University’s Changing Age for Business programme

help the University prioritise its age-related research agenda and value the input of older people. This collaboration has helped Living Well North better understand what its offering should be, how to describe it and where to market it. The use of VOICE North early in the design process can help companies design solutions which are truly age- inclusive. “The VOICE North experience was extremely useful to us, to test out our ideas and methods with real customers. The feedback has helped us shape our marketing strategy, and we intend to continue to work with VOICE North to make sure that our offer is right, and made in the right way. It was a very enjoyable and worthwhile experience for us all” Christine Savage O For more information about how Newcastle University can provide innovation support to help develop your business become more age-inclusive, please contact the Changing Age for Business team at Newcastle University.

VOICE North LIVING Well North has recently benefitted by hearing from older people directly in a workshop with the University’s VOICE North panel. This group has been set up to

CONTACT DETAILS: Telephone 0191 208 1142 or email and visit


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Trade links with the HIS September marks five years since the run on Northern Rock, which is widely taken as marking the start of the financial crisis that would ultimately plunge Britain into a recession that still scars the economy today. It also marks five years since the launch of Emirates airline’s daily service from Newcastle to Dubai. And – considering the events of the last five years – the fact that the route is still operating today might be considered something of an achievement. So what should we make of the fact that the route hasn’t just survived but thrived? Or that, to mark the fifth anniversary of the service next month, Emirates will be upgrading its Newcastle-based aircraft to a £186m 777-300ER, increasing capacity from 278 seats to 428? It’s hardly surprising that, at a recent event convened by the North East Chamber of Commerce, Laurie Berryman, the vice-chairman of Emirates who oversaw the Dubai link being established five years ago, was enthusing about the success of the service which now carries around 80,000 passengers a year with 11.5m tonnes of cargo imported and exported in their hold. “We’ve been delighted by how people, businesses and political organisations have got behind the route and made it a success,” he said. “But now we want to increase passenger numbers by 15% this year and



North East businesses will have even more opportunity to build trade links with the Middle East and beyond when Emirates increases capacity on its Newcastle to Dubai service next month, as ANDREW HEBDEN reports 20% next year – from 80,000 people to around 120,000 or 130,000 – and we definitely think that is achievable.” Berryman said that in a time of economic turmoil for the eurozone and the United States, he was delighted to be able to help North East businesses connect directly with places to the east, including India, China and Oceania, the latter of which has seen a huge £125m a year increase in trade with the region since 2007. Research carried out by York Aviation on behalf of Newcastle International Airport claims that since 2007 the Dubai link has saved North East firms around £20.3m by cutting the time it takes to travel abroad. It also shows that leisure travellers coming in on the Emirates route are worth around £16.7m a year to the region’s economy, with £7.2m spent by visiting businessmen. And going the other way, the report, which will be fully published later in the year, claims the annual value of exports from North East

companies using the route now exceeds £150m. Every day, scores of North East businesses are benefiting from the Dubai link, and, if the new expanded service is to thrive, that number needs to grow further. James Ramsbottom, chief executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce, said that the Dubai link has been a key factor in enabling the region to continue to grow its export trade, and maintain its positive balance of trade. A year ago, The Journal

PURSUITS Laurie Berryman, vice-chairman of the Emirates airline. Left, Nickie Gott, founder of She’s Gott It PR

teamed up with the Dubai government and Emirates to offer three North East businesses the opportunity to join a trade mission to the emirate to explore the opportunities on offer to them. Nickie Gott, who runs events management company She’s Gott It, was


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Middle East booming

keen to explore the potential for delivering events in Dubai with its famous reputation for extravagant parties and high-class hotels. She has received several inquiries regarding potential contracts as a result of links established on the visit and is in further discussions with

UKTI about the best way to establish a presence in Dubai. “We are looking at setting up a small pilot office but there is still some leg work to be done and we need a bit more help,” she said. “I remain confident that we will do something because of the

opportunity that is out there.” County Durham-based PC Henderson, which makes sliding gear systems for sliding and folding doors, was also represented on the trip. Its export director Mark Wilson is now a regular a user of the Dubai flight, especially as a link into India which is

LINKS Competition winners Nickie Gott, managing director of She’s Gott It (green dress), Ian Murray of Distinction Consultants (behind Nickie) and Mark Wilson of PC Henderson (holding folder) at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce

its fastest-growing export market. Wilson said: “Since our visit to Dubai we have seen a huge increase in inquiries as a result of new partnerships we have developed out there, mainly on projects such as new hotels and schools. “For us, Dubai is really a platform for the rest of the Middle East in terms of business development.” The firm, which employs around 80 staff at its Bowburn head office as well as a network of staff around the world, is building a presence in a multitude of markets globally. “The home and European markets are full of challenges generally,” said Wilson. “We tend to prioritise places which are undergoing large infrastructure developments; emerging countries such as India and in Africa and Indonesia are doing particularly well.” Such global aspirations will be music to the ears of Emirates chief Berryman who is banking on the North East business community using the expanded service to Dubai as a route into many long-haul final destinations. And he believes that there is even the possibility of increasing the regularity of the service if the market responds, something that recently happened to the Glasgow-Dubai service. “You never know, in three years’ time we might be here again discussing a double daily service,” he said.



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Wednesday, August 15, 2012 THE JOURNAL

TOP OF THE RANGE Left, St Stephen’s Court in Low Willington was built using sustainable materials and Consett Business Park, above, will offer long-term facilities for over 35 new start and existing SMEs

Building for business BUSINESS DURHAM USINESS Durham has been formed with the support of Durham County Council in response to the current, challenging economic environment. Its responsibility is to play a leading role in the delivery of business support in the county. It will also take a strategic lead in continuing the diversification of the economic structure of the county through the creation and development of innovative and creative industries. A key priority of Business Durham is to maximize the benefit of the county council’s business property portfolio. To support the achievement of that goal, a £3m project to develop more quality office environment in Consett has been given the go ahead, with construction due to begin in summer 2012. Based at Consett Business Park, the high specification offices will provide a long-term facility for over 35 new start and existing small to medium enterprises (SMEs) to enable their future development and prosperity. It is expected to create over 80 jobs and support the overall regeneration of the Consett and North Durham area. The project has secured £1.5m investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) which is managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government, with match funding being provided by Durham County Council. The two-storey development will satisfy the significant increase in demand for small office units in the area offering easy in/easy out occupancy arrangements and providing access to excellent IT and business accommodation facilities. The 2.2-acre site will also boast green credentials, being constructed to BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method)


“Excellent” standards – lowering carbon footprint. The site is part of the successful Derwentside Business Centre complex managed by Business Durham. Businesses will have access to state-of-the-art facilities, including modern office accommodation with broadband connectivity, conference and meeting room facilities as well as access to a designated management team providing integral office services, such as reception and a telephony system. Peter McDowell, business property manager for Business Durham, said: “This

major office development will be a welcomed addition to the already successful facilities in the area and will make an important contribution towards satisfying the ever-growing demand for high-quality business space. “Consett Business Park office development will be a huge boost to the economy of the county and is the next step in ensuring that public sector-led projects continue to lead the way in encouraging the economic growth of semi-rural locations.” Business Durham’s property portfolio extends right across the County. Modern office space, industrial units and high-tech incubator units all offer a wide range of quality floor space suitable for most business sectors. The state-of-the art Tanfield Lea Business Centre, which was awarded a “Very Good” BREEAM status, uses advances in technology to provide a greener environment for tenants, with the inclusion of solar paneling and natural air ventilation. The Business Centre provides 40,000sqft of modern office and workshop space for

TOP-SPEC Tanfield Lea Business Centre has good green credentials businesses in a revolutionary, three-storey building. Similarly, St Stephen’s Court in Low Willington has 14 units that are built using sustainable materials. The single storey, high-spec offices provide a flexible start as well as move-on accommodation. Other developments in the county include Durham Gate, the biggest mixed development scheme in County Durham. The site has had an overall investment of £100m, and will include 10,000sqm of office space, up to 2,000 jobs in offices, new residential and industrial premises and hotel, leisure and local retail services. Modern floor space NETPark has rapidly become one of the

leading locations for emerging sciences and technology in the UK and for the commercialisation of cutting-edge R&D in the physical sciences. Home to some of the North East’s most advanced technology companies in the physical sciences, particularly printable electronics, microelectronics, photonics, and nanotechnology and world-class research groups from Durham University, NETPark boasts the National Printable Electronics Centre – a facility of international significance which is now at the heart of the first national Technology Innovation Centre for High-Value Manufacturing. Industrial units There are a number of industrial units available at a range of sizes at 13 estates

across the county, and units can be combined to create larger floor space. Peter McDowell, added: “Here at Business Durham we want to make it as easy as possible for companies to move to new premises, establish a base for themselves or to expand their operations. We operate a number of the county’s business parks and other developments and supporting growing companies to expand. We are also able to offer a property finding service, using local knowledge to identify sites and properties that may be suitable to potential tenants.” O To find out more about how Business Durham can help you with your commercial property requirements, call 03000 261 261, email enquiries@ or visit



Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Newcastle Business School and Nexus Partnership on the right track A corporate partnership between Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University and public transport provider Nexus has led to the creation of a bespoke MA programme which has received international recognition. Both organisations have been highly commended in this year’s European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), Excellence in Practice Award. Newcastle Business School worked closely with Nexus to design a programme to help Nexus managers make fundamental changes, as the organisation transforms into a strategic planning-led and procurement-driven organisation.

We are now well on our way to delivering our key strategic priorities of Metro Reinvigoration, Smart Ticketing and Building a Better Bus Network.

Nexus, the passenger transport executive for Tyne and Wear, owns and manages the region’s Metro system, as well as planning and providing all forms of public transport.

“I have no doubt that our Management Effectiveness Programme was pivotal to our success in introducing such significant change to the organisation and I am delighted that this collaboration has achieved international recognition.”

Led by Associate Dean for Corporate and Executive Development, Jane Turner; Newcastle Business School academics Ruth Leggett and Joanne James; and David Bartlett, Human Resources Director of Nexus, the joint award entry highlighted the development of the Management Effectiveness Masters programme for Nexus managers. The programme content is closely aligned to the company’s business strategy, integrating theory and practice to prepare managers to help their workforces deliver Metro Reinvigoration, the introduction of Smart Ticketing and the building of a Better Bus Network. Currently there are 44 Nexus managers on the programme, 20 of whom are taking the fully accredited route. The programme has already had a significant impact on Nexus, with managers improving their competency level and 37 percent of managers progressing in their careers since starting the programme. Dean of Newcastle Business School, Professor Sharon Mavin, said:

“This recognition from EFMD is very important for the business school. This is the first time we have entered a submission for the award and to receive a high commendation which recognises our strength in partnership working with business and which addresses their strategic challenges is a significant outcome for Newcastle Business School and Northumbria University.” David Bartlett, Nexus’ HR Director, said:

“At Nexus we are proud of our achievements over the past four years, during which our partnership with Newcastle Business School has been in place.

Now in its sixth year, the EFMD Excellence in Practice Awards 2012 recognises outstanding partnerships in learning and development. Also highly commended in this year’s awards were entries from Airbus, AirBusiness Academy and the Open University Business School; BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte, Axialent Europe DTEK & DTEK Academy and Kyiv-Mohyla Business School (KMBS); and Novartis International & Novartis Corporate Learning UBS with UBS Business University. Dr Richard Straub, Director of Development at EFMD, said:

“Developing people, enhancing skills and providing a learning environment are essential components for any company. All of the winning cases and highly commended cases show that investing in people is not a luxury; it is a key asset for business success if done well.” EFMD is a Brussels-based international membership organisation with over 750 member organisations from academia, business, public service and consultancy in 81 countries. The network advances excellence in management development in Europe and worldwide by building links between leading business schools and companies, creating and disseminating knowledge on best practices and changing trends and providing access to benchmarking tools and accreditation. Five winning partnerships will present their case-study to the EFMD Executive Education Conference hosted by Instituto Internacional San Telmo (Sevilla, Spain) in October.

Part-time courses for full-time people Here at Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University, we offer a range of part time programmes that are flexible around your work and life commitments and enable you to develop your current role at work and help secure your future career aspirations. To book your FREE informal appointment with one of our Part Time Programme Tutors to gain more information, please e-mail Masters in Business Administration (MBA) • BA (Hons) in Leadership Management (BALM) • Masters in Human Resource Management and Development (HRMD) • Leadership and Performance Coaching


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Wednesday, August 15, 2012 THE JOURNAL

Sevcon pays the way for driving up standards in the future ENGINEERING AND MANUFACTURING

The shortage of young people coming in to the engineering and manufacturing industries remains a key concern for the North East economy. ROB PHILIPS hears about one firm’s innovative approach to tackling the problem

S a manufacturer in the electric vehicle sector, Sevcon naturally has one eye on the future. But it’s not just the changing trends in the motor industry or the green energy challenge that is concerning bosses at the company. Instead, and in common with many firms in the manufacturing sector in the North East, Sevcon fears that its future growth may be compromised by a lack of young people willing to consider careers in the sector. And such is their level of concern, the business has committed to throwing some serious money at the problem – by preparing to fund over £200,000 of tuition fees for up to eight university students. Sevcon says the investment will ensure it has a pipeline of skilled staff to meet its future business needs. and it’s not just the business that is set to benefit – the first student to be selected on to the Sevcon scheme has described the £27,000 offer of financial support over three years as a lifeline. North East university leaders have also welcomed the investment which is believed to be the first of its kind in the region, since the Government allowed tuition fees to rise to £9,000 a year from this autumn. Team Valley-based Sevcon is a world leader in the supply of motor controls for electric and hybrid vehicles. It has designed and manufactured controls for companies such as Renault, Toyota, Ford, Nissan, and Hyundai for a range of on and off road, zero-emission vehicles. After a difficult few years following the 2008 recession the company’s performance has improved markedly and it is now back in the black with annual sales of over £20m. This has in part been due to a shift of focus to the electric vehicle market which recently saw it selected to provide the motor controllers for Renault’s new urban vehicle the Twizy. The company employs over 60 engineers at its Team Valley headquarters but is constantly looking to recruit additional skilled staff to support the needs of the growing business. Matt Boyle, president and chief ex-


ecutive officer of Sevcon, said: “It’s extremely difficult to get good graduate engineers and it’s even more difficult to get them in the North East. “We have searched across the globe for good quality staff for around four years. “While we have managed to recruit engineers from Colombia, Canada, In-

We need skilled staff to help us achieve that. So the time has now come to grow our own

dia and a second engineer form China, we have been unsuccessful in recruiting the quality and quantity of staff we require. “The potential opportunities for our business are tantalising and we need skilled staff to help us achieve that. “So the time has now come to grow our own.” Sevcon is talking to Newcastle University and Northumbria University about recruiting able students to its undergraduate, tuition fee scheme. Boyle added: “Over the next few weeks we expect to have four undergraduates sponsored on our scheme and at some point in the not too distant future we want to be in a position where we have eight engineering graduates going through the region’s


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

2020 Vision


NEW RECRUIT Sevcon president and CEO Matt Boyle, seated in a Renault Twizy, with Sevcon's first sponsored undergraduate Ehsan Dehghan-Azad universities. We have already sponsored a PhD student and now we have decided to expand this scheme for undergraduates. “We are happy for the students to come and work for us during their vacations and on graduation, we will offer them jobs, providing they have passed all of their exams. “What we are doing is looking after the needs of the business for the next few years, but this is also good for the overall skills base of the North East.” Ehsan Dehghan-Azad, 26, is the region’s first undergraduate to benefit from the new Sevcon initiative. Ehsan is about to start his second year of studies at Newcastle University for an MEng (Masters in Engineering) and Sevcon will pay £27,000 towards

his studies – that is £9,000 for each of the next three years. Ehsan, who is a practising Christian, fled Iran to seek political and religious asylum arriving in the UK eight years ago. He ended up in Sunderland where he undertook a HND in industrial power engineering and worked in a pizza shop. In 2011 he was accepted on to the engineering course at Newcastle University and moved to Heaton and now works in a local cafe to fund his education and living expenses. This summer he is flying to Turkey to be reunited with his family for the first time since he fled Iran and says the Sevcon award is a lifeline. “This is very important to me,” he

said. “It gives me peace of mind knowing that I have a job at the end of my studies. “I do not have my family here with me so this award really helps and means I will not always have to worry about money. I will use the money to buy the software and other things I need for my education.” Newcastle University says it is very supportive of the Sevcon initiative and looks forward to working in partnership with the company over the coming months and years. Sevcon is also in talks with Northumbria University where it is keen to fund two undergraduates through software engineering degrees. Students starting university this au-

tumn will be the first to pay up to £9,000 a year in tuition fees, with many English universities – including Durham and Newcastle – charging the maximum. Recent research revealed that university applications from the North East have fallen by nearly 12% after the decision to increase tuition fees. Newcastle University recently announced it would pay the tuition fees of 20 students from the poorest backgrounds. Sevcon’s deal to provide the controllers for Renault’s Twizy was the culmination of over three years’ work and a major milestone in the company’s bid to establish a presence in the on-road electric and hybrid vehicle market. The Twizy has ex-

ceeded Renault’s expectations since its launch this spring with over 5,000 vehicles sold and Renault is now expected to ramp up production further. The Twizy is a two-seater vehicle designed for urban driving. It is a quadricycle rather than a car with a top speed of 50mph. It is exempt from road tax and has a range is 62 miles. Sevcon’s Gen4 controller is used to vary the speed and movement of vehicles. It integrates specialised functions, and helps optimise the battery’s energy consumption. Boyle added: “This is a major milestone for us and we are working hard to secure the foundations the Twizy has helped us establish in the on-road electric vehicle market.”


2020 Vision

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 THE JOURNAL

South Tyneside Council invests in workforce of future SOUTH TYNESIDE COUNCIL

IME, money and commitment are being invested by South Tyneside Council, as it recognises the need to nurture the workforce of the future. The local authority recently announced new measures to help young people into work and secure potential career prospects. Councillor Iain Malcolm, leader of South Tyneside Council, announced these plans as he addressed the North East Youth Jobs Summit in South Shields. Coun Malcolm said: “Youth unemployment in South Tyneside is now at a worryingly high level and our young people have been disproportionally affected by the recession, facing more competition for fewer job vacancies. “I am pleased to announce that we are working with South Tyneside College and other partners to launch a pre-apprenticeship academy for our young unemployed residents. “South Tyneside has a strong past and a bright future in engineering and manufacturing, and this will provide young people with first class skills in either electrical or mechanical engineering. The council’s economic growth team are working with local businesses to identify new apprenticeship opportunities for the graduates of the academy.” Coun Malcolm also highlighted the council’s Youth Employment Scheme, which is providing funding for 100 paid apprenticeship placements with a range of employers across South Tyneside. The scheme is open to 18-24 year-old residents who have been out of work for three months, with businesses potentially eligible for up to £4,000 for each young person they employ. One company currently taking part in the Youth Employment Scheme is Hebburn-based Talent Training (UK) LLP. Over the past 18 months the business has taken on and trained eight apprentices, six of whom have obtained at least one qualification and are all now enjoying full-time careers. “The apprenticeship scheme gives local businesses the opportunity to take on additional staff members in


this difficult economic climate, helping reduce the number unemployed in the borough,” said Jenni Dodsworth, HR & apprenticeship manager at Talent Training. Jenni adds: “South Tyneside Council has recognised the problem with unemployment and is tackling it head on. As a training provider, we are delighted to work with the council in improving unemployment rates and finding sustainable employment.” Talent Training (UK) LLP was established 11 years ago and offers work-based NVQs and Apprenticeships in Customer Service, Business Admin, Warehouse and Storage, Performance Operations and Management. A national company employing 40 people, Talent Training moved to South Tyneside from Newcastle in early 2010. Jenni concludes: “The young people bring fresh ideas to the business, as the apprentices of today are our managers of tomorrow.” Two people currently embarking on the apprenticeship scheme are Jacqueline Foster and Kelly Burn. Jacqueline, 22, of West Harton, South Shields is in the process of completing her Business Administration Level 3 Apprenticeship. Kelly, 19, of Hebburn is a Data Processing Apprentice and is working towards her Business Administration Apprentice Level 2. Throughout the 12-month programme they receive ongoing support and guidance from their colleagues and are encouraged to develop at their own pace. The apprentices are given a thorough grounding in the principles of business administration. Jacqueline has been working as an apprentice since the start of May. She talks about her time so far on the scheme and what she hopes to achieve. Jacqueline said: “I hope to gain good experience in the work place, whilst

This will provide young people with first class skills in either electrical or mechanical engineering

OPPORTUNITY Apprentices Kelly Burn, left, and Jacqueline Foster and, back, Jenni Dodsworth, HR and apprenticeship manager at Talent Training studying for a qualification at the same time.” Jacqueline studied at Brinkburn Comprehensive in South Shields, where she received 10 GCSE grades A-C. She wants to go down the career path of Human Resources or become a medical secretary. Jacqueline adds: “Apprenticeships are very important to the young people of South Tyneside, especially with there being a lot of unemploy-

ment in the area. The scheme is a great opportunity for anyone lucky enough to get involved and it’s nice to earn while you learn. “I’m finding it really interesting, as there’s so much stuff to learn. It’s also a real bonus that the apprenticeship is based in the office, as I can ask questions and receive valuable support.” Talent Training has another affiliation with the council as they run an initiative, Talent Start. The scheme

works with South Tyneside Council and Jobcentre Plus, to help provide local unemployed people who are not in education, employment, or training to gain relevant skills and find sustainable work. For further information about how your business can get involved in South Tyneside Council’s apprenticeship programme, please contact Lisa Prince, Economic Development Officer on 0191 424 7569.



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British Science Festival brings business opportunities to the region The region’s businesses will have a unique opportunity to showcase their science and technology credentials to the UK and around the world when the British Science Festival comes to Newcastle on 7-12 September 2013. NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY EWCASTLE will come alive with science when Europe’s largest and longest running public science event – the British Science Festival – sets up for six days in the city in September 2013. Organised by the British Science Association, the Festival is being hosted by Newcastle University, with Northumbria University and Newcastle City Council as associate partners. With 100,000 people expected to attend the 200-plus events across the city and millions more hearing highlights of the Festival through extensive media coverage generated by local, national and international journalists, all eyes in the science world will be on Newcastle from September 7-12, 2013. And with a programme offering something for everyone – from families and school groups to adults looking for thought-provoking entertainment and professionals interested in the latest research – the festival will connect a huge range of people with the UK’s top scientists, engineers, and industry.


Taking part in the Festival programme Newcastle University has launched a regional campaign: Ideas Take Flight, to encourage the public to help shape the Festival in 2013, by sending in questions they want answered, ideas for events, and issues they want to discuss ( Now the region’s businesses are also being urged to play a part in determining the look and feel of the Festival programme, by contributing

their knowledge and expertise. As well as providing an exciting platform for businesses to put on events or activity to showcase their work and the scope of science in the North East, the Festival will also offer an opportunity for businesses to engage with different audiences and to develop new collaborations. Paul Walker, chairman at Newcastle Science City, said: “Newcastle and the North East is home to some of the world’s leading businesses operating at the cutting-edge of technology – from renewable energy firms and subsea; to health, advanced manufacturing and electric vehicles. This event provides the perfect platform to showcase this expertise to a global audience and demonstrate why Newcastle is recognised as a city of science. “There is already considerable excitement in the business community about the forthcoming Festival. Businesses recognise the phenomenal opportunity the Festival represents for them to align themselves with innovation and technological advancement and I’d urge companies to come forward early to secure their part in the Festival.” The Festival events which are to be held at the Newcastle University campus as well as at diverse venues across the city, such as cafes, bars, museums and theatres, offer a wide range of opportunities to reach key audiences and meet corporate objectives including: O Brand positioning – add brand value by aligning with the UK’s leading science event, alongside cutting-edge technologies and leading scientists; O Highlighting corporate strengths and current agenda – showcase new technologies and innovations through organising events, exhibitions, workshops or press conferences; O Brand exposure – benefit from branding on Festival marketing materials


Six days 200 events Around 100,000 attendees Over 350 world-leading scientists Over 100 members of the world’s media 62 million people reached through media coverage

IDEAS TAKE FLIGHT Pupils from Southridge First School in Whitley Bay enjoy a science workshop . From left, Francesca Burridge, Kaia Swinburne and James Styles, all eight,

SPONSORING THE FESTIVAL The British Science Association also looks to secure corporate support to help deliver the festival, and is currently raising sponsorship for 2013. Sponsorship opportunities range from being a principal or lead sponsor which comes with significant branding opportunities and media exposure, to the sponsoring of an individual event or

which reach 100,000s of people; O Demonstrating leading corporate citizenship – showcase CSR programmes, while also helping to engage a huge range of audiences in science, technology and engineering; O Engaging with the community; O Meeting the media – opportunities to network with the media and potential for excellent coverage; O Reaching new audiences – either through widespread marketing or by targeting specific audiences; O Attracting new talent – showcase career opportunities to students and graduates; O Networking – the Festival is attended by leading individuals in science-related business and industry in the surrounding region, Government ministers, civic leaders in the region, leading science writers and journalists and distinguished academics, both national and local.

a particular aspect of the Festival, such as Wi-Fi provision. The British Science Association has a long record of working together with businesses to tailor sponsorship and wider involvement opportunities to meet the specific objectives, target audiences and expertise of individual companies. To discuss sponsorship

opportunities further, please email Philip Wilson, Director of Development at the British Science Association (philip.wilson@britishscience or Rose Wu, Science Festival and Engagement Coordinator, Newcastle University ( or visit



Newcastle Science City is offering support to businesses aiming to host an event or activity during the Festival. Its team is expert in making sure intended activities match the requirements of the British Science Association, while meeting the desired objectives of the host company and delivering maximum benefits. The team will work with businesses to make their submission as strong as possible to maximise their prospect of being selected to take part in the Festival. O For assistance, contact Karen Marshall on tel: 0191 211 3018 or email: Karen.marshall@newcastle


2020 Vision

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 THE JOURNAL

Region goes full throttle to create new generation of trains T WAS the region’s outstanding infrastructure – excellent ports, international airports, rail links and trunk roads – that persuaded Hitachi to build Britain’s next generation of Intercity trains in County Durham. On July 25, Transport Secretary Justine Greening finally approved a £4.5bn contract to supply Britain with an Intercity fleet of 92 complete trains at Amazon Park in Newton Aycliffe. Agility Trains, a consortium made up of Hitachi and John Laing, was awarded the contract to build and maintain the high-speed trains under the Intercity Express Programme (IEP), the project to replace Britain’s Intercity 125 trains with new, higher capacity modern trains. More than 700 skilled jobs will be created with a further 200 jobs during the construction of a £77m factory. Around 2,000 more will be secured in the supply chain. Hitachi will also locate its European rail research and development capabilities on the site, which will further enhance the factory’s ability to win rail contracts across Europe. The train fleet will include electric and bi-mode trains, some five vehicles-long and others nine. Construction at the site is expected to begin next year and it will be fully operational by 2015. The first trains will enter revenue-earning service on the Great Western main line in 2017 and on the East Coast Main Line by 2018. It is anticipated that 10,000 jobs will be created over the next five years, between now and the trains being fully operational. The final confirmation of the deal has been hailed as a major success for Newcastle-based Merchant Place Developments (MPD), which owns the site in partnership with Durham County Council. MPD director, Geoff Hunton, said the site was the preferred location for Hitachi ahead of 42 others in the UK. He said: “Newton Aycliffe is one of the larger towns in the area and has a strong industrial base. It’s seen by a lot



It has been a long, anxious wait, but the deal that will bring Hitachi to County Durham was finally signed and sealed last month. RUTH LOGNONNE hears how the £77m investment could benefit firms across the region of global manufacturers as the place to be. Its closeness to the A1M has attracted inward investment and it is acknowledged as one of the region’s strongest logistics and distribution locations. “This major win brings a whole new dimension to North East manufacturing and is the catalyst for many more things to follow. This is why we have been waiting for this deal to happen for so long. “Our journey to formal confirmation has been a rollercoaster ride and not devoid of setbacks. “The IEP programme was set up by the then Labour Government but then there was a change of Government in 2010 and the whole thing had to be reviewed. “The global financial crisis made banks ultra-cautious about providing financing for the trains and the three

depots, with Agility ultimately securing finance with a core group of lenders. “In March 2011 they announced it was all going ahead in Parliament, but Hitachi still hadn’t signed a contract with the Government. “It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that a contract finally existed and from my point of view we can now progress with the project. “We will now be quickly completing contracts and getting on site as soon as is practical to start work before the end of this year for delivery, as a turn-key project in 2015.” The Hitachi open day in May 2011 at the Xcel Centre, in Newton Aycliffe, attracted more than 1,000 people from 600 companies keen to learn about the business opportunities available during the construction and fit-out of the new factory. The event, thought to

be the biggest of its type the North East has ever hosted, was a huge success and turned out to be heavily oversubscribed. Speakers at the open day included representatives from Durhan County Council, Business Durham, MPD, Agility Trains and Hitachi Rail Europe. One firm that is looking to work with the Hitachi-led Agility Trains consortium is Newcastle-based Hart Door Systems, which specialises in high-speed automatic doors. Managing director Doug Hart said: “Our type of product is a high-speed, automatic door which provides energy-conserving facilities. It is also self-repairing. We are a family-run op-

A LONG JOURNEY PLANS to replace Britain’s ageing fleet of 1970s-era high-speed trains were first mooted back in 2005. The prospect of the trains being built in Newton Aycliffe emerged four years later when Hitachi began to consider 40 sites in the UK. Three were shortlisted two and a half years ago, but it was the local skills and the money already invested in North East manufacturing at the likes of Nissan that ultimately convinced Hitachi to choose County Durham. Six months later, Amazon Park was formally identified as the preferred site. Keith Jordan, managing director of Hitachi Rail Europe, said: “There are 20 Japanese companies within a 20-mile radius of Newton Aycliffe with Nissan being the largest. “We received some very good feedback about the

support these companies get from the various local authorities and this was instrumental in our decision. “The infrastructure was already in place and we didn’t have to start from scratch.” The lengthy journey to last month’s final formal confirmation of the deal has not been without its setbacks, however. The total order of just under 600 carriages is a substantial reduction from the original programme for as many as 1,400 when Agility Trains was given preferred bidder status in February 2009 as part of a £7.5bn deal. The global financial crisis made banks ultra-cautious about providing financing for the trains and the three depots, with Agility ultimately securing finance with a core group of lenders.

eration in Newcastle and we have been in business for 65 years so we have some clout behind us. “This is the picture we’ve put to this client, along with similar clients and contracts, which we’ve completed of this type.” At Heathrow, the firm has installed more than 50 smoke/fire doors and is to supply 155 multiple industrial roller shutters for Dubai Metro in the United Arab Emirates. Although Hunton, of MPD, says no supply chain contracts have been agreed as yet, the firm has already worked alongside 15 other North East consultants to help bring the project to fruition. Newcastle-based Ryder Architecture has already carried out work, along with environmental consultants E3, in Hexham and Wardell Armstrong in Newcastle. MPD, which is made up of seven staff in Newcastle and five in London offices, has invested £500,000 in the project to date. This has proved to be an investment that has undoubtedly paid off for the company. “I can finally sleep at night,” said Hunton. “We’ve worked tirelessly with our partners to see this project finally signed off, but it is without doubt the biggest contract I have ever won in my career. “There’s lots to do over the next six months, with our design team moving from outline design stage to full


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

design stage along with contracts going out to tender and planning applications going in. “It’s going to be full throttle for the next few years, but it’s what we’ve wanted to bring to the region for so long.” The £77m investment has the potential to revitalise Newton Aycliffe, according to industry experts. Simon Haggie, industrial partner at Knight Frank, said as a manufacturing base, the County Durham town has

seen its industrial fortunes fluctuate. He said: “The arrival of Hitachi will bring with it a 450,000 sq ft plant, more than 700 direct jobs and many more in the supply chain, reversing the decline in manufacturing in the town. “The selection of Newton Aycliffe against 42 other UK locations underlines the town’s connectivity by road and rail – important for Hitachi as the company has horizons beyond the UK and contracts such as the IEP and is

2020 Vision

openly negotiating for contracts in Europe. This has potential for Teesport. “This will be a significant inward investment for the North East. “Though not comparable to the scale of Nissan, the Hitachi development will nevertheless underline the fact that the region is an excellent location for Japanese companies. “Newton Aycliffe in particular will become an important focal point for a new industry.”

READY FOR TRANSFORMATION An aerial view of the proposed Hitachi site

MAKING IT HAPPEN Justine Greening and Geoff Hunton



2020 Vision

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 THE JOURNAL

Celebrating the rebirth THE MANUFACTURERS’ LEAGUE

The Journal has long championed the region’s manufacturing sector. Now, after a 10-year break, we’re bringing back an initiative designed to showcase the very best of the sector, as ANDREW HEBDEN reports ANUFACTURING has long been part of the North East’s DNA; the region’s role at the heart of the industrial revolution was celebrated even at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics. But images of coal mines, ship yards and Jarrow Marchers haven’t always helped the North East to convince outsiders that it has an especially bright economic future. In a world which, until recently, everyone seemed convinced financial services would pay our way in future, the North East struggled to find a convincing narrative. And then suddenly manufacturing became fashionable again. Ministers talked of ‘rebalancing the economy’ and that, ultimately, means shifting the focus back on to manufacturing. Which should be good news for the North East, where 17% of the region’s Gross Value Added comes from manufacturing against the UK average of just 13%; in some parts of the region (especially in Tees Valley) almost a third of the workforce is employed in the sector. So the North East is well placed to play a key role in this new era. A series of good news stories such as the continued growth of Nissan – now widely acknowledged as the most productive car plant in Europe – and Hitachi’s contract to bring train building back to County Durham have taken the headlines. But as well as these major announcements, the sector as a whole continues to enjoy a renaissance with many businesses finding their expansion constrained only by a lack of availability of skilled staff. It is this rebirth of manufacturing that has spurned the rebirth of an initiative designed to celebrate industry here in the North East. Ten years ago the Ernst & Young Manufacturers’ League was wound up after almost a decade of highlighting the contribution that manufacturing companies were making to the region’s economy. When the league re-launches later this year, it will see businesses from across the region compete to be included in our quarterly league table of the best performing firms according to a range of criteria such as sales, staff numbers, exports and apprentice-



ship places. The best of the best will then be honoured at an annual awards ceremony. Peter Bernard, managing director of Gateshead-based Responsive Engineering group, was a keen supporter of the original Manufacturers’ League. At the time he was head of Streamline Waterjet Cutting – now part of the Responsive group – which was a former winner of the competition and regularly featured towards the top of the league. Recalling the impact of the original League which ran for eight years until 2002, he said: “It provided motivation, recognition for the guys in the business, and a bit of good publicity for the region.” He described the League as “a very good thing for manufacturing in the North East”. “There is nothing wrong with competition – it is a healthy thing,” he said. “It is also good to be able to see which other companies are doing well.” Bernard said that, whilst the manufacturing sector was generally per-

We need to attract people because there is potentially a lack of young people choosing manufacturing forming well in the region, there were increasingly issues in the supply chain with attracting skilled staff. He said that, by highlighting the growth of firms in the sector, the Manufacturers’ League could help to attract people into the industry. “There is too much bad news around at the moment, so it is good to highlight the positives. Engineering is part of this region’s heritage and there are a lot of great engineering companies still around today so it is right that we should promote and celebrate them.” Another backer of the competition, Express Group chairman Chris Thompson, agreed. “We need to attract people to manufacturing because there is potentially a lack of young people choosing manufacturing as a career and it is important that we promote the benefits,” he said. “This is a great way of identifying which companies are leading in the sector both regionally and nationally.” Geoff Ford, chairman of Ford Component Manufacturing and Ford Aerospace, both

RE-ENACTMENT OF OUR PAST Performers in a scene during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening

based in South Tyneside, and chairman and founder of the South Tyneside Manufacturing Forum, was another participant in the original league and also welcomed its return. “I believe manufacturing, which is fundamental to the North East, can lead the UK out of recession, and, as such, it needs to enjoy the maximum profile possible,” he said. “The return of The Manufacturers’ League is therefore most welcome.” Andy Tuscher, regional director for the manufacturers employers’ organisation EEF, called on its members to get involved in the project. “This is a really great opportunity to showcase the best of manufacturing in

the North East and to show the rest of the economy just how strong our manufacturing base is,” he said. “The North East is still the only region in the UK with a positive balance of trade and whilst that is in a large part due to the success of Nissan, we have a strong presence in the wider automotive supply chain, as well as in oil and gas, defence, aerospace and increasingly in renewable energy. “This region is therefore in a really strong position in many of the key growth areas and the Manufacturers’ League is a chance to tell the world about what is going on here. Unfortunately a lot of manufacturers traditionally like to keep a low profile, but

it would be great to hear from them now and to highlight their successes through the league.” Simon Whiteside, director at Ernst & Young in Newcastle, said that, after a 10-year break, it was the right time to be bringing the Manufacturers’ League back. “It‘s a prime time for manufacturers to be celebrated in the North East for the contribution they make to the economy,” he said. “The Ernst & Young Manufacturers’ League is a tangible measure of the wealth, jobs, exports and apprentices they create. “The league will share the region’s leading exporters, sparking discussion on their strategies for entering international markets and their views on the next hot places to invest. It will act as a rallying call to young people, highlighting the attractions of joining the manufacturing sector and the opportunities available. “Overall, the league aims to support a sector that perhaps has been overlooked, recognising the achievements of manufacturers and the part they are playing in the economic recovery.”


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

2020 Vision


of manufacturing PROMOTE THE BENEFITS Chris Thompson, Express Group

A PRIME TIME Simon Whiteside, Ernst & Young

PROVIDE MOTIVATION Ceremony, which celebrated the country’s proud industrial heritage, a huge part of which took place here in the North East in the last century

Responsive’s MD Peter Bernard

HOW THE LEAGUE WILL WORK THE competition is open to any company with manufacturing operations in the North East region (defined as the area formerly covered by One North East) and a turnover in excess of £1m. The first quarterly data will cover July to September (plus the rolling 12-month quarterly numbers) with a plan to release the first league table early to mid November. Information required includes (for the rolling four quarters): turnover, employee numbers, apprentice numbers and export values. The data will be used to rank companies quarterly into one or more leagues with tables to be published showing the highest growth of turnover, exports and apprentices, relative to the employee base. Once we have more visibility of the participants in the league, we will be clearer on the

final format of the league tables to be published. Following publication a report will be developed and shared with the region’s manufacturing business community accompanied by various events for members of the league as well as the general manufacturing community. O HOW TO REGISTER: Companies interested in joining the league will need to email to note their interest, providing minimal identifying information and a description of their manufacturing operations in the region. Organisers of the competition will then maintain regular contact with each league member and provide further details of the league. To obtain the data, a link will be sent to a web page a month before the due date for data. The closing date for entries is September 30.

A MAJOR PART OF NORTH EAST BUSINESS One of the region’s biggest manufacturers, Nissan


Wednesday, August 15, 2012 THE JOURNAL

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Journal 2020 Aug 2012  

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