Paul Butler, Ceo, North East Automotive Alliance, Reflects On Five Memorable Years For The Organisation

Issue 57

Over the past five years the NEAA has played an important role bringing the automotive sector together to create an unparalleled collaborative network where companies gain from the leadership and co-ordination of activities that are of mutual benefit. During that time, we have firmly established the NEAA as the largest automotive cluster in the UK, providing a clear voice while aligning regional and national strategies to maximise impact for the North East.

Having successfully delivered our start-up strategy, the NEAA Board has set our strategic plan for the mid and long-term. Our vision is that we will be the catalyst through which the North East becomes the location of choice for automotive investment in Europe and that the region will be recognised as a true automotive powerhouse with a very dynamic, forward looking and competitive supply chain with strengths in research, development and innovation in new automotive technologies and manufacturing processes.

Our new strategy sets out our goals for the NEAA over the next five years. In the short term we are in unprecedented times and facing significant challenges through Brexit, electrification and now Covid-19. It has never been so important that we come together as a sector and as a region, to allow members and stakeholders to network, share ideas, information, best practice and to do business with one another. The NEAA will continue to work cohesively with national and regional government, the Automotive Council, SMMT, the Welsh Automotive Forum and the Northern Automotive Alliance to represent the needs of the region and to ensure we are best prepared for the future.

The true impact of clusters, however, is felt over the medium to long-term and we are now starting to see the potential impacts of our early endeavours.

• The NEAA has been central to the development of the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (CESAM), which will be the catalyst for manufacturing productivity improvement in North East England, enabling companies to be at the forefront of manufacturing technology and processes.

• NEAA members have been the driving force behind the newly launched Driving the Electric Revolution initiative, an £80m industrial strategy challenge funded programme to establish the UK as a global leader in Power Electronics, Electric Machines and Drives (PEMD) delivering £80 billion in gross domestic product by 2050.

• The NEAA and members are developing plans to establish a globally unique centre of excellence and testbed for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles for Logistics (CAVL). The £10m centre would expand the UK CAV Testbed ecosystem and utilise the unique assets of the North East’s road transport sector.

The Government has set out its strategy to ensure the UK is a leading force in the move to electric vehicles and industrial digitalisation. The North East is well placed to capitalise on these opportunities and the NEAA will continue to be the catalyst to drive this region’s automotive sector forward. The team and I look forward to working with members and stakeholders throughout these difficult times and to realise our vision.

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