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SME companies from across the region are invited, fully funded, to promote their products and services at the North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA) SME Showcase.

The event, on Thursday 22 March 2018, from 9.00am until 4.00pm, is at the Nissan sports and leisure complex, Sunderland.

Paul Butler, chief executive of the North East Automotive Alliance, said: “The Showcase event is part of the NEAA’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) programme, Advancing the Competitiveness of North East Automotive SME (ACE SME). It provides a fantastic opportunity for SME companies who are seriously interested in developing their presence in the automotive sector, to promote their products and services and engage and network with the region’s leading automotive companies.

“Over 80 companies have so far signed up, ranging from IT systems specialists to manufacturers and we would be delighted to have more SMEs from the region join the programme, exhibit at this event and benefit from the many activities the programme brings.

“The event is a free drop-in day for delegates. We already have over 100 delegates signed up to attend including representatives from many of the region’s leading automotive companies. These companies often are not aware of the excellent capabilities of the SMEs in our region, so this event is critical in helping them learn more about the growing automotive supply chain capability in the North East.”

The automotive sector is a major contributor to the region’s economy. Today over 30,000 people are directly employed in the industry, currently generating £11 billion in sales for the region’s economy – £6 billion is export. Over the next three years the sector could grow by a further £3bn, providing huge opportunities for the North-East supply base.

GB Belting, based in Thornaby, is the UK’s largest independent manufacturer of process and conveyor belts. The company joined the SME programme in September 2017 and has gained good insight of the sector, seen its profile raised and made new contacts with potential customers and suppliers.

An example of this is a collaboration with Bespoke Electrical Limited, based in Darlington, a specialist electrical engineering company offering a full turnkey package, from design through to installation and commissioning. Both companies met while on the programme and will be exhibiting at the SME showcase.

Jeremy Byrne, director, GB Belting, said: “We have been on the SME programme for only a short period of time but it has been of great value to us already. We have grown our contacts list and have attended a number of very useful presentations that have given us a clear understanding and knowledge of the sector. I would encourage any company wishing to enter, or further develop its presence in the automotive sector, to apply for the programme.

“By way of example, we are now looking at project opportunities with Bespoke Electrical Limited, a company which is not far from here, but with whom we would probably never have developed a link, if it had not been for our both being on the SME programme.

“The programme has given us the confidence that this is a sector where we can make a big contribution. We are looking forward to assessing potential new opportunities at the SME showcase.”

Paul Butler, continued: “We are on the verge of a significant growth period for the North East automotive sector at a time when there is also a focus on localisation. This is the perfect storm for supply chain companies and this event will facilitate interaction between the region’s major automotive companies and our excellent and very capable SME community.”

Those interested in attending as a delegate or in joining the NEAA ACE SME Programme, please contact sme@northeastautomotivealliance.com or call 0191 516 4400.

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