It was with great interest that we heard last week that NEPIC, the Wilton-based process industry cluster, has revealed that in excess of £2.5bn in Gross Value Added has been generated through its activities since its inception in 2005.
I was one of 470 delegates at the vibrant annual Members’ Conference and Exhibition at Wynyard Hall to hear the announcement.
It is a staggering figure – and congratulations to NEPIC in all that it has achieved in that timeframe – but, perhaps it should not be that surprising, as we all know how important the chemical and pharmaceutical industry is to the region. Indeed, the strength of the sector was the key reason why, in 2003, Eclipse acquired Stockton-based The Language Service Ltd, a former in-house service of ICI Chemicals & Polymers. It provided us with a highly skilled and specialist resource and a clear point of differentiation in the market that we still enjoy today.
As I toured the exhibition, it was also very interesting to see how a diverse and expert supply chain is playing a vital role in supporting our world class manufacturing and process companies in an increasingly global market.
From a business communication point of view, globalisation necessitates translation. Translation brings cultures closer and adopting strategies to accommodate language and cultural differences has helped many businesses to increase overseas trade. As a company, we continue to win contracts based on our ability to assist clients in important overseas markets. It was clear to see from the NEPIC event that we are a niche and important part of the jigsaw – as are many other service sector companies both large and small.
The North East portrays itself as a great place to invest as, indeed, it is. The region has a deep and wide ranging supply chain to support all aspects of the chemistry using industries be it petrochemical and commodity chemicals, polymers, specialities, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology or renewable. In fact, there are more engineering, measurement science and architectural companies in North East England than in any other region of the UK and the concentration of such companies around Stockton-on-Tees is the highest in the whole of Europe.
There are more than 1,400 regional companies directly involved with or in the supply chain of the chemistry using industries in the North East of England; collectively they generate £26bn of annual sales and employ 190,000 people. Together these companies manufacture 50% of the UK’s petrochemicals, 35% of the UK’s pharmaceuticals and export £13bn per year [NEPIC].
North East England has a world class infrastructure for the process industry, including transport facilities, universities, training centres and R&D facilities.
From the conference, the message was reinforced that fierce competition exists in the sector within Europe, at a global level and even between sites around the world within the same group. Companies need to balance supply, cost and compliance. Key to the success and growth of the region’s process sector is the development of sustainable technologies, effective capital management and safety and regulatory compliance.
So, interesting challenges – and opportunities – lie ahead for the sector.
At Eclipse, we are looking to build on our expertise and we are proud to play our part in making the global market an easier place to do business.