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Putting the North East in the global spotlight

June 10, 2024

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Jennifer Hartley, Director of Invest Newcastle at NewcastleGateshead Initiative, shares her thoughts on the impact of taking part in international events on the economic landscape of North East England.

I have had the privilege of representing Newcastle and the North East at hundreds of national and international events over the years and I’m often asked what the benefits are for cities and regions to be funding this kind of activity.

The first thing that comes to mind for me is our Invest Newcastle Investor Dinner, which we have hosted each year at MIPIM and UKREiiF since we started attending these two major real estate conferences in 2015.

When I am sat around the dinner table flanked by colleagues from major institutional funds including Legal & General, Aviva Investors, BlackRock, Capital & Centric, M&G, Phoenix Group and Landid, each of which has hundreds of millions to deploy in the UK, it strikes me that if even just one of the many productive conversations had over the course of the evening bears fruit, it will deliver a quantum of capital into the region that is far greater than anything we could achieve sat behind our desks in Newcastle.

Just look at Legal & General’s investment in Newcastle Helix and Riverside Sunderland – a combined £165m funding commitment that has catalysed two of the North East’s most important regeneration projects, creating thousands of jobs in the process.

The relationship with Legal & General, and many other institutions who we are proud to work alongside, has not been developed overnight, but rather as a result of concerted efforts to develop and promote the North East as an attractive and investable proposition on the global stage.

At Invest Newcastle, we have consistently invested in leading public-private delegations to international events, often taking the risk when others haven’t, and the result is that we now have a mature network of investors who are as excited as we are about the next phase of economic development across North East England, and crucially, they want to be part of the story.

We also have a well-established city brand that positions Newcastle as a genuine contemporary of other major European cities and that brand recognition is really important as we look to build relationships in new territories that might not have knowledge of the UK market outside of London.

Over the past 12 months, the Invest Newcastle team has attended MIPIM in Cannes, Great Futures in Riyadh, EXPO Real in Munich, Smart City Expo in Barcelona, MEDICA in Dusseldorf, Arab Health in Dubai and Money 20/20 in Amsterdam as well as a string of large-scale domestic events including UKREiiF, Subsea Expo, London Tech Week, Pay360, Connected Places Catapult Summit, The Great Escape and Energetic Futures to name but a few.

The mission for us is always the same, to put the North East in the global spotlight and make connections with companies that are looking to expand into the UK market.

Historically, these conversations have followed a familiar pattern, with us spending the majority of the time explaining where Newcastle is on the UK map and what the North East economy has to offer.

I’m happy to say that is no longer the case, no doubt as a result of us developing our message and being a consistent player on the international conference circuit.

Just a few weeks ago at the UK Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum (UKREiiF) in Leeds, it really felt as though Newcastle and the North East were a big part of the national story, with our pavilion stage packed to the rafters over the three days.

Everyone is looking to how the region will move forward with devolution, and given where we are in the UK league tables in terms of economic growth, business investment and so on, surely the potential for economic development in the North East is greater than anywhere else in the country?

That is motivates me and why I’m passionate about participating in major events. Through the brilliant partnerships we’ve developed so far, we are already seeing our places transformed, from Pilgrim Street in Newcastle, to the River Wear in Sunderland, to Aykley Heads in Durham and everywhere in between.

Just imagine what we can achieve coming together through the new combined authority and presenting a unified and comprehensive investment proposition on the platform that we have built, together with our public and private sector partners.

Now is the time for the North East to take it to the next level. We have the attention of the global investment community. We have the investment-ready sites. We have the tools through the new combined authority to support investment decisions.

Let’s go and write the next chapter of the North East economy together.

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