We must be ready to act when economy recovers
TURBULENCE in the banking sector is causing a serious readjustment of the business world, much of which is proving painful.
One outcome, however, may be an increased realisation of the importance of businesses that make high-value products, founded on significant levels of knowledge.
The North East can undoubtedly take advantage of this, not least thanks to the type of businesses we are championing through the NECC Innovation campaign.
But to do this, we must keep our focus on establishing the assets that enable science and knowledge-based businesses to thrive in this region.
A challenge for us all is to make sure we don’t let current economic difficulties divert us from making the long-term decisions and investments needed for the North East economy to resume its recent impressive growth trajectory when the inevitable upturn in the world economy begins.
Our Regional Economic Strategy rightly placed a heavy emphasis on scientific strengths. So, it is pleasing to see that a commitment to investment in this is continuing among businesses and public sector bodies here. One of the most exciting proposals at present is for the Campus for Ageing and Vitality on the Newcastle General Hospital site.
If it goes ahead, it will be a further development of life sciences in the region, which has already shown its world-leading expertise in genetics research at Newcastle’s International Centre for Life.
The campus would place a major research centre into ageing right next to the healthcare-related businesses which would convert its work into commercial products and services for use in the NHS and elsewhere.
It would give North East businesses early access to potential users and distributors of these products, a major advantage in a globally competitive field.
Unsurprisingly, therefore, it is forecast to attract significant commercial interest from businesses in this sector, placing high quality jobs in a part of Newcastle which will benefit from regeneration if the project is approved.
Job prospects would be boosted by the presence of Tesco on the site with one of only 20 regeneration partnership stores, ensuring a proportion of those recruited for its 350 jobs were long-term unemployed people in the area.
The campus can be a key part of the wider Newcastle Science City development, which will cement the city and the North East’s position as an internationally significant centre for research and development. Investments such as these should give us confidence the long-term future for the North East economy is very bright indeed.
James Ramsbotham, North East Chamber of Commerce chief executive