Peter KerrNorth east businesses, universities and venture capitalists are stepping up activity to strengthen trade links with China and the Far East.

Northumbria University’s Newcastle Business School is among those spearheading efforts to accelerate already strong link building and innovation­ sharing partnerships with China. The move comes as Northumbria continues to extend its international collaboration and global reach.

Prof Yu Xiong, chair of technology and operations management at Newcastle Business School, recently took a small business party to London to find out more by attending the 9th China UK Entrepreneurship Challenge Competition.

Prof Xiong was chair of the China UK Forum on Invest in Innovation event, held at the Bank of China, London.

His party included two experienced business coaches – David Anderson of Auxin Group, and Peter Kerr of 8020 Consultants along with their client Dr Olusola Idowa of Newcastle based skin care specialist Hexis Labs. They were invited to better understand how regional businesses can explore the commercial opportunities offered by gaining access to China.

Peter Kerr said: “This was a rare opportunity to get exposure to some very influential people within both the British international trade department along with senior Chinese government representatives. Prof Xiong has for some time been a key conduit for improved Chinese links and relations with the North East.

“As coaches that are focussed on helping North East businesses develop and secure more business, particularly following the EU referendum, the event and opportunity to meet such people was of huge value. North East businesses can only prosper by exploring this enormous market further.

Prof Xiong added: “It was great to see David and Peter along with their client Hexis Labs make the effort to attend this particular event. The North East is a wonderful place to live and work and I am confident we can find opportunities to collaborate in the future. There are many ways that closer ties can help both North East and Chinese businesses.”

Newcastle Business School has worked extensively with China for a number of years.

Around 700 Chinese students study at Northumbria University each year, with more than (over 4,700) 10,000 alumni based in China.