THE North East is gearing up for an influx of European cash to give a welcome boost to domestic resources for economic development. Over £255m has been allocated to the region from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for the period 2007-13.
This represents an annual cash injection of around £36m additional funding for the region from the European Union.
And developing the knowledge economy is to be a cornerstone of regional partners’ plans for investing this money.
Every region develops its own ERDF operational programme with partners to govern how their allocation of money will be spent. Regional development agency One NorthEast is undertaking managing authority tasks delegated by goverment and will therefore hold responsibility for the 2007-13 ERDF programme on behalf of the region.
The North East operational programme is closely aligned with the Regional Economic Strategy and will directly support the delivery of its priorities.
ERDF investment in the North East is to focus on two main priorities:
Enhancing and exploiting innovation;
Business growth and enterprise.
The first will promote and embed opportunity by advancing science, technology and innovation within the region’s business base and broader communities.
The second will address the relative underperformance of the North East in terms of business start ups and survival rates.
Both priorities are underpinned by commitments to environmental sustainability, equality of opportunity and sustainable communities. One NorthEast will hold an official regional launch for the ERDF programme early in the New Year, subject to EU approval.
ERDF money funds projects up to 50% of their cost, so it is always used to ‘match’ fund projects with private and/or public sector investment.
European funding has been used to support the North East since 1989 and has brought many millions of pounds worth of investment to the region. Distributed by the European Commission, the funding promotes growth, competitiveness and employment in the region.