A manufacturing support body has launched a drive to help regional companies be more innovative, productive and globally competitive.
The Advanced Manufacturing Forum (AMF) works with businesses to inspire growth within the North East, but Government statistics show that the region lags behind other parts of the UK when it comes to innovation and patent registrations.
In response to the survey the AMF aims to put the North East back at the forefront of manufacturing, making innovation one of its key priorities and working with North East universities, organisations and leaders in the field to offer advice and guidance to its members.
Ian Fawdon, chairman of the AMF, said: “There is a clear recognition that the North East lags in terms of innovation and patents secured.
“This, however, is not reflected in the internal processes within local companies who are demonstrating a desire to be more innovative and develop cutting edge techniques to support their growth.
“They’re also committed to improving productivity which, as we’ve heard from Mark Carney, is vital to this country’s growth.
“What we need is support for our manufacturers, whether it’s through funding or expert help in ensuring the appropriate processes are being adhered to.
“Being innovative and productive is vital to the continued growth of the North East’s manufacturing industry and will ensure we remain globally competitive and at the forefront of developments.”
The AMF – originally known as the South Tyneside Manufacturing Forum – was set up eight years ago by Geoff Ford as an organisation where members can support and inspire one another to foster growth.
Geographical boundaries were widened last night as new firms came on board, taking the membership to 60 companies, also prompting the re-naming of the forum.
Mr Fawdon, who took over the role of chairman from the Ford Aerospace founder two years ago, added: “Each month we have a manufacturers’ round-up where our members update on how their business is performing and what’s extremely encouraging is how many are reporting growth and plans for continued expansion in 2015.
“There are plenty of signs of optimism and evidence that our manufacturing and engineering sectors are getting back to what they once were.
“Yes, business conditions remain challenging, especially for those within to the oil industry, but the majority of members can articulate realistic growth expectations.”