The North East Automotive Alliance’s (NEAA) flagship Expo is to be held at the Beacon of Light, Sunderland for its seventh year.

The Expo, an industry highlight for companies operating within the region’s automotive supply chain, will take place on Thursday 29 September. The one-day exhibition is free-of-charge to NEAA members and manufacturing delegates and is supported by a high calibre of sponsors.

The 2021 event attracted over 670 delegates, 124 exhibitors, 14 sponsors and helped instigate over 110 meet-the-buyer appointments with ten of the region’s largest automotive companies. These included, Nissan, Komatsu and their tier one suppliers, all of which helped to facilitate vital business connections for the automotive supply chain.

This year the keynote speaker is Alan Johnson, vice president manufacturing at Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK (NMUK). Alan, who has over 30 years’ experience at Nissan, is responsible for all manufacturing aspects of the plant, and, as well as discussing digitalisation, skills and localisation, he will talk about Nissan’s drive towards net zero with its EV36Zero £1bn Electric Vehicle Hub.

Sunderland City Council is confirmed as main sponsor for a seventh year and Invest South Tyneside, Advance Northumberland, ThinkPrime, CMYK, Horizon Works, Masfix, Ekobox and Reliance High-Tech continue to show their support with repeat sponsorship. New sponsor, Nokia, has come onboard as partner sponsor, whilst Manosun will sponsor the Technology Showcase and Smart Manufacturing Solutions and SMS Tech will sponsor the ‘new for 2022’ Drinks and Networking Reception.

Alan Johnson, said: “Now is a key time for our industry and I’m looking forward to hearing from the wider North East automotive sector, as we look forward to our bright electrified future, together.”

Exhibition stands are already over 70% sold, so companies wishing to use the Expo as a platform to showcase products and services to the sector are urged to act fast to secure one of the remaining spaces.

The NEAA will also host an SME Zone which offers vital support to firms looking to expand their presence in the automotive sector. The ERDF funded programme will provide fully funded exhibition space to eligible companies in the North East Local Enterprise Partnership area. One company that benefitted from this funded presence at the Expo in 2021 was Cobots Online, which automates manufacturing processes.

Mark Thompson, business development manager at Cobots Online, said: “We found it hugely beneficial attending the Expo last year. Having a primely positioned exhibition stand within the SME Zone allowed us to showcase our technology and engage with other members operating within the sector.

“We came away with a number of interesting leads that have since developed into enquiries and new business. These opportunities most likely would not have arisen had we not had a presence on the day of the Expo and followed up diligently in the weeks after.”

Paul Butler, chief executive, NEAA, said: “The Expo events are an industry highlight, with many attendees coming away with new contacts and business leads, as was the case for Cobots Online and software development company, Fuzzy Logic Studio, which, following its success at the 2021 Expo, is now a member of the North East Automotive Alliance.

“Following the recent announcement by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, that the North East is at the centre of Britain’s first ‘electric decade,’ having received £4.1 billion of the £10.8 billion invested throughout the last decade in to electric vehicle and battery production, it is evident that the heartbeat of UK automation is right here, in this region.

“Opportunity is vast and collaboration is the key to success for firms in the sector looking to make their mark and grow at an exponential rate.”