Over 500 delegates are expected today (September 28) at the sell-out North East Automotive Alliance’s (NEAA) 2017 Expo at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light.

Now in its third year, the event has doubled in size, and is again bringing a stellar line-up of the industry’s big names to the North East.

A total of 14 buying companies offering over 100 meet the buyer opportunities will be at the event, including representatives from Nissan, Jaguar Land Rover, Bentley Motors, Komatsu UK, Cummins UK, Gestamp Tallent, ZF TRW, Calsonic Kansei Europe, Lear Corporation, Arlington Automotive and Czech Republic companies.

The Expo, which is the region’s only exhibition solely focussed on the automotive sector, is supported by big name sponsors and will provide numerous opportunities for automotive suppliers and associated service companies to showcase their products and services and network with industry’s finest.

MAKE it Sunderland is Headline Sponsor for a third year, whilst the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) and Horizonworks Marketing will take Partner Sponsor and Event Guide Sponsor and TR Fastenings is Meet the Buyer Sponsor.

New for 2017 is the CzechTrade Exhibitor Zone, supported by CzechTrade and CzechInvest, offering the chance to learn more about collaboration with Czech Republic companies as well as the opportunities to either invest or directly supply to the local OEMs and the wider supply chain. There is also a number of Czech Republic companies participating in the Meet the Buyer event including Jihostroj, HTP, Otsuka Brano and Futaba Czech.

The successful Technology Showcase supported by the Knowledge Transfer Network, will return again, giving ten companies a platform to showcase latest technologies or expand existing applications into the automotive sector.

The Expo, which is all about showing off the strength and depth of the North East’s automotive industry and helping firms to win new business, also features keynote speeches from Judith Richardson from Nissan and Garry Wilson from the Advanced Propulsion Centre UK (APC).

Judith Richardson, Vice President of Purchasing, Nissan Europe will give an overview of Nissan’s supply chain strategy and the future opportunities within the sector. Garry Wilson, Director – Business Development, Advanced Propulsion Centre UK will talk about the funding opportunities through the APC and the launch of the EV Supply Chain Programme, which aims to support the significant scale up required to meet UK targets of zero emissions from 2040.

Judith said: “The North East Automotive Expo supports our localisation strategy and provides meet the buyer opportunities with key automotive companies whilst showcasing the strength and breadth of the North East automotive sector.”

Paul Butler, CEO said, “I am delighted to have Judith and Garry speak at this year’s event which has received phenomenal support. We are committed to keeping the expo industry-focussed and are confident this year’s event will provide even more opportunities for our members, SMEs and the wider automotive sector.”

The Expo is also putting on a number of industry-specific workshops, covering topics such as Industrie 4.0, new ISO 44001 regulations, Automotive Council Skills Group overview of the UK wide activity and automotive Trade & Investment opportunities in the Czech Republic

The three exhibition areas have sold out and will be packed with 86 companies displaying their products and services, plus the CzechTrade exhibitor zone featuring a further 14 companies and an outside demonstration area which is bringing together vehicles and products from Komatsu and Nissan.

Paul Butler said: “The size and scope of our third expo reflects the fact that the NEAA is now the largest automotive cluster in the UK and one of, if not the, fastest growing clusters in Europe.

“Today the NEAA has 250 active cluster participants working together to promote and support the sustainable economic growth of the region’s automotive industry. We have achieved that in just two years.

“The expo is all about raising the profile of the North East automotive sector and we’re delighted more organisations and VIPs are visiting this year from outside the region.

“It’s an ideal platform to raise awareness and really push the value being created in the North East and promote the significant and growing capability that exists here.”