Empowering Economic Growth: Transforming Supply Chains in the North of England for Innovation, Jobs, and Resilience

29th Jan 2024

Alan Whittaker, Head of Operations, explains how Supply Chain North East has been transformative for the businesses who worked with RTC. Alan has over 15 years’ experience of working in business support and has worked with hundreds of SMEs to identify opportunities to apply innovation to their products and processes and develop action plans which will enable growth and potential internationalisation throughout his career.

Supply Chain North East allowed him to put that experience to practice creating incredible impact along the way.

Global value and supply chains are undergoing seismic change. The drive towards net zero, conformance with the EU Trade Cooperation Agreement, and disruption from an increasingly perilous geopolitical environment are leading many to create more streamlined and localised supply chains.

Recognising the opportunity to capitalise on supply chain localisation, RTC North worked with the North East LEP to create Supply Chain North East as a key project within the North East Strategic Economic Plan.

Supply Chain North East was designed to help businesses break into and increase their value in supply chains. Delivered in partnership with the region's key industrial clusters—North East Automotive Alliance, North East Process Industries Cluster, and Digital Union—the team included supply chain specialists, all experts in different markets. The service supported businesses to move into new sectors by providing access to opportunities and the financial and consultancy support needed to put the technology, equipment, and accreditations needed to supply in place.

I took immense pride in the outcomes revealed by an independent assessment of Supply Chain North East, highlighting the substantial impact we successfully accomplished. Key highlights included:

  • £13 million and 376 new jobs added to the local economy.
  • £8.8k turnover per employee in businesses supported.
  • 83% of businesses identified opportunities to diversify into new sectors.
  • 89% of businesses became more competitive and attractive to customers.

The impact of Supply Chain North East demonstrates that for regions across the North of England, supply chain development presents a significant opportunity to create more jobs, retain more wealth, and increase the rate of innovation and productivity. The North is home to clusters of businesses with complementary competencies that, when collectively applied, can form highly competitive and innovative supply chains capable of servicing a diverse range of industries in parallel—such as offshore renewables, nuclear, automotive, defence, and security, maritime, chemicals…the list goes on!

It’s often said that it’s not wise to have all your eggs in one basket. The application of collective competence, therefore, helps to build economic resilience. If demand is disrupted in one supply chain, businesses capacity and competence can be refocused to areas of greater demand. In a fast-moving and disruptive world, developing the agility to do so is essential.

Our work in supply chain development continues to grow, we are across the North launching supply chain programmes to support businesses. 

We have exciting plans to expand and enhance our Supply Chain development service and look forward to working with more areas to unlock the benefits of supply chain localisation into their local economy and I am incredibly proud and excited to be part of that.  

You can find more information on how RTC supports supply chain competitiveness

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