Sam Cassidy, Inward Investment Manager at Invest Newcastle, who are part of NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI), has been working on various inward investment campaigns over the last three years. He is now taking on the helm as energy lead and sustainability lead and has a particular interest in clean tech having recently completed a master’s degree in Ecological Economics alongside his role at NGI.
Sam talks about the clean tech investment revolution and its ability to drive innovation and tackle climate change.
With the climate crisis at the forefront of our minds and becoming increasingly impossible to overlook, it is fitting that the clean tech sector has seen significant growth and investment over the past couple of years. Business leaders and key decision-makers across the world are looking to the innovative tech sector for green and environmentally conscious solutions to our climate crisis; the UK saw $798m invested into the clean tech sector in 2020 alone.
Currently 55% of people globally live in urban areas, a number which increases weekly and more people living in close proximity often means more cars, more traffic jams and greater air pollution. With this in mind, Newcastle and the wider North East has committed to reducing our impact on the environment and developing smart solutions that combat the harmful impacts of urbanisation.
Clean tech as a sector works to develop products, processes, and services that both directly and indirectly reduce our environmental impact on the planet and according to EY’s annual European Attractiveness Survey, 36% of executives and decision-makers across Europe believe clean tech and renewable energy will be the sector to drive Europe’s growth in the coming years, second only to the digital economy.
Large amounts of investment have already gone into decarbonisation and renewable energies across our region including pedestrianisation in the city centre and the UK’s first Gigafactory set to open in Blyth, and the team at Invest Newcastle is keen to utilise our thriving and growing tech eco-system to welcome more clean tech businesses into the city to help tackle the climate crisis in new and innovative ways.
Race to Net Zero
“Newcastle City Council has declared a climate emergency and has a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2030, which is very ambitious and very soon – it’s only nine years away! If we want to reach that goal, we’re going to need clean tech businesses involved – SMEs and large companies who are going to bring in products and services to deliver net zero,” Sam said.
In recent months the clean energy sector across the wider North East has boomed, with several major developments making a national splash including, Nissan’s Electric Vehicle Hub at their base in Sunderland, Britishvolt’s new Gigafactory battery development facility in Northumberland and the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult in Blyth.
Being a relatively compact region, opportunities to network and collaborate with businesses of all sizes are extensive. Last year, the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult held a clean tech accelerator programme in collaboration with TusPark, a shared workspace in Newcastle city centre, to boost the growth of the region’s clean tech start-ups. There is a commitment across all sectors, from the energy and tech sectors in particular, to create a cleaner and greener destination for those visiting, and for those living in the region for years to come. It is the ideal time to locate a business in Newcastle and Gateshead.
A smart and sustainable city
As the urban core of the North East, Newcastle’s status as a Smart City, debuting on the IMD Smart City Index at 23 in 2020, reinforces the city’s ambitions for ‘Net Zero’ and demonstrates the work that is already being done to create a better future for our citizens and to combat the urgent environmental issues we face.
Not only are clean tech businesses sought after in the region but Newcastle and Gateshead offer cost effective office space and access to high-quality facilities and talent with 50,000 students across the North East studying science, technology, engineering or maths courses.
Facilities in Newcastle such as the National Innovation Centre for Data and the Urban Observatory on the landmark 24-acre city centre quarter, Newcastle Helix, are dedicated helping us all live better, healthier lives. The site benefits from an academic, public and private sector partnership, meaning businesses have access to world-leading research and a community of innovative and collaborative organisations tackling the problems of tomorrow, right in the heart of the city centre.
My role within NGI is about working with partners and stakeholders in the region to embed sustainability practices within their business as well as supporting clean tech businesses to land in Newcastle and Gateshead, making the appropriate connections and ensuring they get the most out of these fantastic opportunities.
“Clean tech businesses have an important role to play in improving cities’ environmental credentials as the products and services they design help to reduce our carbon emissions. Within the energy sector, there is a big opportunity within clean tech, and I look forward to supporting the growth of the sector in our region.”
From 5-7 October Sam will be attending the Clean Tech Group’s annual Clean Tech Forum which is taking place virtually this year. With the opportunity to talk with investors, businesses and innovators from across Europe, Sam is keen to showcase the breadth of activity and innovation happening in the North East. Get in touch with Sam at firstname.lastname@example.org with any climate tech or clean tech activity your business is involved in or any products your business is developing.