Why the North East Is the Most Exciting Tech Hub in the UK - Turntide Technologies

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Why the North East Is the Most Exciting Tech Hub in the UK

Turntide | Electrification Share

The North East is a world technology centre for electric vehicles (EVs), so developing our own electrification solution in the region was a no-brainer.

Following our £100 million acquisition of three companies—Sunderland-based Hyperdrive, Gateshead-based BorgWarner, and Cramlington-based AVID Technology—in the summer of 2021, we are preparing to expand our workforce and scale our sustainable solutions.

Luckily, the region provides several key advantages that will bolster our upcoming hiring efforts.

The North East Has Long Been a Hub for Top Engineers
Thanks to the longtime presence of other global companies, such as Nissan, which came to Sunderland in 1984, the area is already home to 82,000 engineers and an additional 116,000 in the wider manufacturing sector.

Many of these engineers have long-time experience working on electric vehicles. For example, approximately 175,000 Nissan Leafs have been built in Sunderland since 2013, which has established a fundamental appreciation for sustainable solutions in the region. The presence of Nissan and other companies has established a culture of innovation that is already attracting the best transportation engineers from around the world.

Momentum Is Already Building for Greater Transformation
In recent years, more and more companies have recognised the North East’s value.

Around the same time that Turntide invested in the North East, Nissan and battery partner Envision AESC announced their plans to build an electric battery gigafactory in Sunderland. And in early 2022, Britishvolt committed to building a similar facility in Northumberland, with construction slated to begin during the first half of the year.

As a result, the North East will soon be home to the UK’s first two battery gigafactories, a huge win for a region still recovering from the regression of coal mining, steel, and shipbuilding. Combined with Turntide’s own expansion, these investments will create thousands of additional skilled jobs in a rapidly growing sector.

This will create a cyclical effect: As more local workers develop the corresponding skills in sustainable technology, the region will look even more and more attractive to future businesses and investors, which will then create even more opportunities for the community.

Local Organizations Are Dedicated to the Region’s Economic Health
This momentum didn’t happen by accident. Many organizations, big and small, have played a role in encouraging new investment in the North East.

The North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA), for example, is an industry-led cluster group established to support the economic growth and competitiveness of the transportation sector in the region. According to their website:

“Our aim is simple—to build upon the region’s significant automotive capability and to firmly establish the North East as a true global automotive powerhouse—ensuring North East is at the forefront of the Government’s strategy to ensure the technologies of tomorrow are designed, developed, and manufactured in the UK.”

By bringing more and more transportation-focused companies into the region, the group hopes to establish an economic environment that benefits all parties. Launched in March 2015, the NEAA has more than 300 participants, including Turntide. Matt Boyle, OBE, Managing Director of Turntide Transport, even serves as the organization’s chair.

The North East Powers the UK’s Renewable Energy Future
In the UK, business electricity bills have increased by 43% over the past decade. While prices have been volatile over that 10-year period, most of that increase has come over the past two years. Unfortunately, ballooning natural gas prices are likely to drive prices even higher.

The UK, like much of the world, realises that increasing renewable energy production will mitigate the issue and insulate businesses from the volatile costs associated with fossil fuels.

Renewable energy is growing at a rapid pace in the UK, with renewable electricity generation outperforming fossil fuels for the first year ever in 2020. Much of that transformation was driven by offshore wind, which accounted for approximately 10% of the UK’s electricity production in 2021 with more projects on the horizon.

The North East has led the way in offshore wind energy for many years. In 2000, the UK’s first wind farm was installed at Blyth, which boasted the largest offshore turbines in the world at the time. That port and the surrounding area have since developed into an offshore energy hub with similar hubs near Tyneside, Newcastle, Sunderland, Hartlepool, and Middlesbrough.

For industrial businesses looking to build a new facility, proximity to such abundant renewable energy will be paramount.

The Government Is Investing More in UK Business and the North East
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson launched a new Business Council following the two-year Brexit anniversary. The goal: bringing together industry leaders to go further and faster on delivering economic growth.

While announcing the members, Johnson said the members will “knuckle down on creating new high skilled, high wage jobs, driving innovation in science and tech, and mobilizing investment to deliver the green industrial revolution—all while leveling up and securing the UK as the best place to do business.”

That could start with the North East, a fast-growing mecca of all things “innovation,” “tech,” and green.” As if to accentuate the point, Turntide’s Matt Boyle, a champion of vehicle electrification in the region, was named to the council.

The UK Government has also taken a direct interest in the region’s potential as an economic powerhouse. The new Britishvolt gigafactory, for example, initially secured £100 million in Government funding, which opened the door for the private funding package that ultimately secured the project. With that precedent, don’t be surprised if other companies take a serious look at the North East.

Nearby Universities Provide Pipeline of Hungry Engineers
The proximity of five quality universities—Newcastle University, Durham University, Northumbria University, University of Sunderland, and Teesside University—and many outstanding colleges guarantees a constant flow of young engineers, technicians, and technologists eager to leave their mark on the world.

An estimated 110,000 students attend those universities, with more than half studying Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects. Newcastle University, where Boyle teaches part-time, was ranked as the sixth-best engineering school in the UK in 2017. His relationship with both the NEAA and Turntide gives him unparalleled insight into the local transportation industry, a win for both the students and local companies.

Low Housing Prices, Excellent Secondary Schools, and Local Destinations Make the North East Appealing for Outside Talent
Compared to other regions in the UK, the North East has relatively low housing prices. The average price for a home in the North East is £178,200, which is 65% lower than London and delivers more space for households of all sizes. And according to the latest Hamptons housing market forecast, house prices in the North East are set to rise by 21.5% by 2024 based on the region’s dynamic economic activity.

In terms of education, the Office for Standards in Education rated 24 of the North East’s secondary schools as outstanding at the beginning of the 2021 school year. That number is only poised to increase as more companies move to the region and provide a welcome boost to tax revenues.

All this makes the North East a fantastic place to raise a family, while the region’s vibrant nightlife and beautiful outdoor recreation areas are great for people at all stages of life.

The North East Is Turntide’s Greatest Asset in Electrification
Electrifying the global transportation sector is crucial to reducing carbon emissions and saving our planet, but such an undertaking will require a massive amount of engineering power. In our pursuit of top talent, the North East is our greatest asset, an appealing destination for innovative minds from around the world.

Companies like Turntide and Nissan recognise the region’s long-term value as a thriving tech hub and will capitalise on this advantage to revolutionise the global transportation industry.

The world will electrify. The North East will make it possible.