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200 jobs boost as global defence and security firm chooses Newcastle for new research site

February 15, 2023

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Multinational defence and security firm Leonardo has announced that it is investing in creating a new high-technology science and engineering facility on Newcastle Helix, a ground-breaking 24-acre city centre development that brings together industry leaders, businesses, and top researchers into an internationally renowned innovation cluster.

Leonardo UK expects to employ over 200 people at the new site, which will be its eighth facility in the UK, generating over £185m of economic benefit in the region over the next ten years.

With the support of Invest Newcastle, multinational Leonardo will be looking to access talent from across the North East and build closer links with small and medium sized local businesses, many of which are already part of its nationwide supply chain.

New jobs will be high-value science and engineering roles, including those focusing on emergent digital and data technologies, as well as a firm commitment by Leonardo to provide early career opportunities.

Jennifer Hartley, Director of Invest Newcastle, part of Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, said: “This significant investment from Leonardo represents a major boost for the city’s burgeoning defence and aerospace sector that will add millions of pounds to the local economy. It is testament to the strength of our technology ecosystem, research expertise and ability to attract and retain the best talent.

“Between the 200 jobs being created by Leonardo and the Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) becoming operational on Newcastle Helix, we now have a nationally significant cluster that will drive further investment, innovation and good jobs at all levels for our region’s residents. We look forward to continuing our work with Leonardo over the coming months to maximise the impact of this investment for local communities.”

Leonardo UK has been supported by Invest Newcastle, part of NewcastleGateshead Initiative, which helped secure the move to the region by showcasing the fantastic assets the city has to offer, including Newcastle Helix where Leonardo’s new site will find itself in the company of many other technology and research-focused businesses.

Best known for its onshore production of UK military helicopters and the cutting-edge electronics on-board Royal Air Force aircraft, Leonardo is one of the biggest suppliers to the UK Ministry of Defence. Its 8,000-strong UK workforce represents some of the country’s leading science and engineering talent.

The company is at the heart of the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP), the initiative by the UK, Italy and Japan to produce a new 6th generation jet to go into service in 2035, and its cyber security business has been trusted for decades to protect the UK Government’s most sensitive information.

The new site in Newcastle will focus on research, development and prototyping of Leonardo’s next generation sensing, security and vertical lift products and represents a 50% expansion of the company’s UK-wide early careers opportunities, with an additional 300 apprentices, industrial placements and graduate scheme starters being hired in 2023.

Clive Higgins, Chair and CEO of Leonardo UK said: “The UK’s defence and aerospace industry is an engine for economic growth, prosperity and security, representing world-class research and technology and many thousands of well-paid jobs and amazing career opportunities for young people entering the workforce.

“Leonardo already employs over 8,000 people in the UK and our new site in Newcastle will allow us to expand even further, drawing on science and engineering skills from the North East region in order to develop the next generation of digitally-led technologies.”

UK Minister of State in the Department for Business and Trade, Lord Dominic Johnson, said: “The North East has proven time and again how inward investment benefits local communities by boosting productivity, driving R&D, creating economic growth and supporting high value jobs in priority sectors like science and engineering.”

“Leonardo’s decision to increase its stake in UK plc is another vital step to level up the region and country, further improving our attractiveness to overseas investors as we continue becoming a science and technology superpower.”

In addition to the work done by Invest Newcastle, the North of Tyne Combined Authority has also played a leading role in attracting Leonardo to the North East, making £420,000 available through its Inward Investment Fund to support job creation. As part of the funding, Leonardo UK will sign up to the North of Tyne’s Good Work Pledge and commit to achieving the Advanced Award within a reasonable timeframe.

Newcastle City Council cabinet member for a Resilient City, Cllr Alex Hay, said: “I am delighted that Leonardo UK are opening in Newcastle creating 200 jobs. This is a highly respected cutting-edge company that will add to the city’s growing reputation for defence industries.

“Not only will these jobs give opportunities to a wide of range of employees from starters to highly paid technical and scientific staff but also boost the North East’s economy with £185m of economic benefits over the next decade.

“We want to build a city where everyone has the chance to succeed, improve and access quality employment and training regardless of where they live in Newcastle.

“Leonardo has recognised the strengths of Newcastle Helix as a site for pioneering research and development and will find a highly skilled and able workforce that will help the company thrive in the UK defence sector.”

Leonardo’s new site will benefit from its location alongside Newcastle University, the UK National Innovation Centre for Data (NICD) and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratories (Dstl) Defence Artificial Intelligence Centre – Experimentation (DAIC-X). This means the site is ideally located to engage with and develop emergent digital and data technologies that will be essential to delivering the Ministry of Defence’s future vision.

Recruitment is already under way for the Newcastle office, with new opportunities being added to Leonardo’s candidate area:

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