The DTI is committed to helping businesses and people of the North-East rise to the challenges of globalisation, says Trade & Industry Secretary Alistair Darling in an exclusive overview of progress in the region.
Science is transforming industry in the North-East of England - creating jobs, generating wealth and helping the region to rise to the challenges of globalisation.
Last year, Newcastle was designated by the Chancellor as one of just six Science Cities across the country. Newcastle City Council, One NorthEast, Newcastle University and other regional partners are working hard to ensure that the city, its people and the wider region, get maximum benefit.
It is vital that we drive science into industry and industry into science. To do that, we need more young people studying science, engineering and technology subjects. The North-East Science Learning Centre in Durham, for example, is providing a regional focus for the development of science in education.
And graduates leaving our universities could form the hub of the region's growth and be the founders of tomorrow's Top 200.
It is interesting that all of the hi-tech clusters around the world are built around universities. That's why it's so encouraging that more and more entrepreneurs are looking to use the expertise and knowledge base that the region's higher education establishments provide.
Science now accounts for more than half of DTI's budget, with investment running at £3bn a year.
Just recently, £25m was invested in a new Stem Cell Institute and £30m into buying the old Scottish and Newcastle brewery site in Newcastle, where the iconic Science Central will be built. This will be a testament to our aim of translating scientific research into science business.
We've also invested in knowledge transfer partnerships, bringing together business and academia to drive the latest science to market.
For instance, Northumbria University worked with insect control manufacturer P&L Systems to introduce a new design process. As a result P&L has developed a range of more than 16 products.
And £80,000 has been invested by the DTI through the Technology Programme Collaborative Research & Development competition to help Hexham's Econnect Ltd and two other companies develop ways to improve the balance between electricity supply and demand.
Also having a dramatic effect is DTI's Manufacturing Advisory Service. In the past 12 months, MAS North-East has generated £4.3m of added value for almost 900 firms.
Firms such as Falon Nameplates of Bedlington. It is saving £10,000 a month after MAS helped it get specialist advice that reduced its defect rate from 35% to just 5%.
Thanks to a £54,000 grant from the DTI's Research and Development fund, Newcastle's Brush Technology Ltd has developed a new shock-absorbing part for floor cleaners that offers improved cleaning on uneven surfaces while reducing vibration. And Business Links in the North-East have helped more than 40,000 entrepreneurs and businesses in the last year.
The most productive car plant in Europe is in the North-East. We've invested £170m over 20 years in Nissan and, today, it employs some 5,000 people directly and generates 20,000 more jobs.
We continue to support businesses looking to invest in the North-East: Maersk has been offered a £1.8m DTI grant to move and expand its ship management division to Newcastle.
The DTI is helping businesses and people of the North-East rise to the challenges of globalisation.