A new year always brings new opportunities. But as we move into 2024, the potential for change feels palpable, sparking a collective sense of anticipation and promise.
In Newcastle and across the wider North East, we are eagerly awaiting the formation of the new mayoral combined authority, bringing together seven local authorities and unlocking a £4.2bn trailblazer devolution deal that has the potential to transform the regional economic landscape.
Devolution has already made its mark on our city, and we look forward to seeing how a new industrial strategy for the region can help unlock more inward investment in areas where we know Newcastle has genuine strengths and growth potential.
At the national level, we hope that the cooling of inflation and prospect of falling interest rates releases capital that has been on the sidelines over the past 12 to 18 months.
What’s important is that more private investment flows to regions like the North East and with the new combined authority having already secured Investment Zone status around the globally competitive cluster of clean, green manufacturing, there is every chance that it will.
An improved economic outlook for the UK should also improve the UK’s foreign direct investment (FDI) performance, which we know has been declining as the global investment market has become more competitive.
The Harrington Review is an important step in rebuilding the UK’s reputation as an FDI leader, but we need to make sure that any new policies and incentives will improve the attractiveness of the whole of the country and not just London and the South East, and address issues around subsidy control, skills availability, infrastructure and energy costs.
In Newcastle and the North East, we have consistently punched about our weight for attracting FDI projects, and we hope that 2024 will be the year we begin to see the gap closing in terms of investment and income between the North and the South.
Our role at Invest Newcastle is to make sure that investors understand the diversity of opportunities in the UK market and so we look forward to engaging with them at home and abroad this year.
The team will once again be leading major delegations to MIPIM in Cannes and UKREiiF in Leeds, bringing together the public and private sector to showcase the potential for regeneration and transformation across the North East.
We will also be working closely with the Department for Business and Trade and other partners to establish new relationships in a number of target international markets this year, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the US, Norway, Spain, The Netherlands and more.
As always, we could not deliver any of this activity without the support of our partners and public sector funders who together help us build a compelling investment proposition.
We are confident that our proposition is as strong as it has ever been, from our established strengths in digital, life sciences and energy to emerging areas such as space and defence; fintech; screen entertainment, music and writing; and healthy ageing.
With the upcoming devolution deal and a robust pipeline of partnerships and collaborations in place, 2024 looks set to be a prosperous year for Newcastle and the North East.