The group which brings together the region’s car manufacturers and suppliers is on course to become the biggest organisation of its kind in the country this year.
The North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA) is starting 2016 as the fastest growing industry cluster, after beating its own membership target of 100 for 2015 and now has 110 members drawn from sector giants including Nissan and Komatsu UK, to tier one suppliers and SME component manufacturers.
The UK’s biggest automotive cluster group, the Welsh Automotive Forum, was set up in 2001 and now has 126 members. The NEAA is on course to overtake it, with a target of 200 members in 2016.
NEAA chief executive Paul Butler said: “The industry support and leadership has really driven the alliance in its first eight months.
“All the top performing clusters across Europe are industry-led and we have followed those examples of best practice.
“Industry leadership ensures that we focus and collaborate to address areas of concern and on those opportunities that offer the region the best opportunities.”
The NEAA has three working groups, focused on areas offering the greatest potential for growth – business excellence, skills and technology.
“We have more than 100 industrialists who are working together through our leadership team and working groups,” said Paul Butler.
“This is extremely powerful and shows how the NEAA is able to make such an impact in a very short time.”
Later this year NEAA will be setting up a fourth working group, trade and investment, to introduce members to key international markets and boost the region’s strong automotive exports.
It will be attending the main automotive trade show in Japan in May, with UKTI and the Society oi Motor Manufacturers and Traders, aiming to establish good relations and facilitate trade through strong cluster links.
Paul Butler said promoting foreign trader was a vital part of the group’s role: “Japan is obviously one of the key industry markets, but the North East is also very well connected with Europe and well placed to export its products.
“We want to encourage members to take part in more international trade, because it makes them much more competitive. Research shows companies are about 30 per cent more productive if they are trading internationally.”