Green Incubator planned for former Circatex site

A STATE-of-the-art business incubator unit has been given the green light to bring new jobs and opportunities to land which used to house a South Tyneside printed circuit board factory.

A STATE-of-the-art business incubator unit has been given the green light to bring new jobs and opportunities to land which used to house a South Tyneside printed circuit board factory.

Up to 41 flexible office, workshop and hybrid units will form the Green Incubator on part of brownfield land at the former Circatex site at Eldon Street, South Shields.

It will provide managed workspace and business support for new and growing companies in the low carbon and environmental sectors.

The Green Incubator is due to open in June 2012 with 95 construction jobs expected to be created to develop the site creating 30,000sq ft of business premises. As a direct result of the project, 44 jobs will be safeguarded, a further 44 created, while 35 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will be assisted and have their performance improved.

The three-storey building will incorporate state-of-the-art environmental energy systems and will be one of only a handful in the country to meet the highest environmental standard of BREEAM “outstanding”.

The project is part-financed by the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Competitiveness Programme 2007-2013, securing £2.46m ERDF investment through regional development agency One North East. Match funding is being provided by South Tyneside Council, which is running the project.

Coun Michael Clare, lead member for jobs, enterprise and regeneration at South Tyneside Council, said: “This exciting development will make a significant contribution to our efforts to place South Tyneside at the forefront of the green industrial revolution.

“The Green Incubator units will enable us to attract new businesses operating within the low carbon and environmental industries sectors to the borough. Once here, they will receive all the support they need to grow and evolve and in doing so, they will create exciting employment opportunities for local people.”

The Green Incubator is aiming to attract start-up businesses, high-growth SMEs operating within the low carbon and environmental industries sectors and other SMEs in strategic knowledge economy sectors such as science and technology, automotive, e-business, product design and marine engineering linked to low carbon applications.

The Green Incubator will have strong working links to the region’s universities and the National Renewable Energy Centre, Blyth, to provide the best possible assistance to the service users providing high quality premises on a flexible easy-in easy-out basis.

Lesley Calder, head of Europe and skills at One North East, said: “The Green Incubator project will help steer business growth and employment opportunities towards the South Shields area, taking advantage of the future growth in low carbon and environmental business sectors to target assistance where it is most needed.

“Incubators significantly contribute to SME growth and reduced business failure rates so combined with the transition to a low-carbon economy it means that ERDF intervention is helping an excellent project move forward for economic improvement in the North East.”

Robertson, the infrastructure, support services and construction group, based in Hebburn, is carrying out the works and will start construction of the building in May this year, with completion scheduled for spring 2012.

Robertson’s managing director Andy McLeod said: “We are delighted to have been selected as the sole contractor for this major project - it further consolidates our position in South Tyneside. We have a strong appreciation for BREEAM – the leading environmental assessment method for buildings and routinely and successfully incorporate sustainable design into a project’s build.”

European investment still available

THE £320m North East England European Regional Development Fund programme (ERDF) has reached its midway point, operational from 2007 and able to commit to projects up to 2013, just over £200m of ERDF investment has been approved in a wide range of projects.

There is still £120m available for investment in projects supporting innovation, business support and enterprise across the North East. A further three pages in this edition showcase just a few of the projects currently benefiting from ERDF support.

Since October 2007, One North East, the regional development agency (RDA) for the North East has managed the ERDF programme on behalf of government and local partners, its management described as sound and responsive with strong engagement of partners by a recent independent evaluation of the North East Programme.

Following the decision to abolish RDAs, management arrangements for the ERDF programme will change. From July 1, 2011, responsibility for the management and administration of the North East ERDF Programme will transfer to the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

Partners can be confident that DCLG is fully committed to making sure there is a very smooth transition to new management arrangements.

A North East located ERDF team will remain in place to support the programme, making sure that the £200m ERDF already invested delivers the best possible outcomes for the North East, and that North East partners take full advantage of the £120m still available.

The new arrangements will mean that there is a far greater role for North East partners in the development and delivery of exciting, eligible and compliant projects that deliver great outcomes for the North East.

Over the next few months the ERDF Secretariat based at One North East will be letting partners know more about these changes, working with them to help develop their knowledge and expertise so that we maintain the momentum of our programme.

The ERDF Secretariat can be contacted on 0191 229 6319, email

For information on the wider range of support available to businesses, please contact Business Link on 0845 600 9 006 or visit


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer