The North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA), the UK’s largest automotive cluster, has announced its first automotive conference, labelled The Future of Automotive, which has gained the support of MAKE it Sunderland and the North East Growth Hub.

The NEAA, who already organise the North East’s only automotive expo, will now add a conference to its portfolio with keynote speakers from across the UK heading to the region on 27 June to ensure businesses in the North East are fully informed and prepared for the future challenges and significant opportunities that will come out of the automotive sector.

Speakers will include senior figures from Innovate UK, Department for International Trade, APC UK, Driving the Electric Revolution, Zenzic (formerly Meridian Mobility UK), High Value Manufacturing Catapult, Siemens, Accenture, TR Fastenings plus more.

Cllr Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Sunderland‘s justly proud to host the NEAA’s first automotive conference. The city has established itself globally as a hub for the automotive sector. It also topped all other competing UK cities for electric vehicle infrastructure this year, and we have seen great progress in the construction of the International Advanced Manufacturing Park, which will create superb new opportunities for investment in Sunderland by automotive and advanced manufacturing companies.

“NEAA is to be congratulated for organising a high-quality conference at an important time for the car industry and MAKE it Sunderland is delighted to support it. We wish it every success.”

Colin Bell, Business Growth Director at the North East LEP and leading the North East Growth Hub, said: “The automotive sector is a strong driver of regional economic growth and has further growth potential as we continue to build upon skills, new technologies, innovate and build resilience.

“This is an excellent initiative by the NEAA to support this critical and burgeoning sector – from manufacturers right through the supply chain. It’s a pleasure to lend our support.”

The automotive sector is entering unprecedented times in terms of the technology in the vehicles produced and how they are manufactured. The North East is globally renown as a centre of excellence for automotive manufacturing, producing 30% of all UK passenger vehicles and is a significant contributor to the regional economy, generating over £11bn of sales.

The region is home to leading global automotive companies, such as Nissan, Komatsu, Cummins, Adient, Borg Warner, Calsonic Kansei, Elring Klinger, Faltec, Gestamp, Kasai, Lear, Nifco, Novares, SNOP, Unipres and ZF TRW. Despite near-term challenges around the transition to electrification, the sector is expected to grow to £14bn over the next three years.

In recent years, the region has also established significant capabilities in batteries, power electronics and electric motors. The North East manufacturing sector must capitalise on these strengths to ensure the region is at the forefront of the UK Government’s strategy and adopt the technologies of tomorrow that are designed, developed and manufactured in the UK.

Paul Gadd, Head of Land Transport at Innovate UK, who will speak at the event says: “The Future of Mobility is one of the four grand challenges that form the heart of the governments Industrial Strategy. Innovate UK are pleased to work with organisations like the North East Automotive Alliance in supporting UK businesses to take advantage of the global opportunity that innovation in transport will bring, delivering societal and economic benefits.”

Paul Butler, CEO of the NEAA says of the conference: “We are delighted to introduce the future of automotive conference to the region with the support of MAKE it Sunderland and the North East Growth Hub. It is in the North East’s best interests that we are fully informed and prepared for the future opportunities that the automotive sector will bring.

“It is an honour to be hosting so many senior figures from within the automotive sector who are dedicating their time to speak at this conference, which will address all elements from vehicle technology through to manufacturing technology, as well as the skills we need to take advantage of this.”

The conference is expected to host over 100 delegates at the Ramside Hall Hotel on Thursday 27 June 2019. Tickets must be purchased via Eventbrite

Butler continues: “The opportunities within the automotive sector are huge. The accelerated introduction of new technologies such as electrified propulsion, connected and autonomous vehicles will have significant impact on our supply chain; whilst an increased focus on localisation and the digitalisation of our manufacturing processes will open the automotive sector to new companies. The conference will give delegates a broad insight in to the fundamental areas driving the region’s automotive powerhouse.”