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North East Automotive Alliance Limited

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General Information
The date when the cluster organisation was established: 
Friday, 17 October, 2014
Number of staff in the management team of the cluster organisation : 
Northumberland and Tyne and Wear
Cluster Excellence Label: 
Bronze Label
Membership to other networks/partnerships: 
Automation Advisory Board
Automotive Intergroup
Automotive Council - Supply Chain Group
Automotive Council - Skills Group
SMMT Affiliate Member
SMMT Automotive Components Section
Automotive Council Regional Engagement Forum
North East Apprenticeship Ambassador Network
Niche Vehicle Network
Advanced Manufacturing Forum
Institute of Supply Chain Management (IoSCM UK)
Cluster Management Team: 
Cluster Manager
+44 7525 277 309
Project Manager
+44 7795 301 392
Project Manager
+44 7703 819 229
ECCP Responsible Person
+44 7703 819 228
+44 191 516 4400
Internationalisation Responsible
+44 7841 324 323
Languages spoken: 
Sectoral and Industrial Focus
Sectoral Industries: 
Technology fields: 
Automotive electrical and electronics
Automotive engineering
S3 EU priority areas: 
Automated driverless vehicles
Advanced manufacturing systems
Emerging industries: 
Digital Industries
Experience Industries
Composition of the cluster
Total number of members: 
Number of SME members: 
Number of start-ups among SME members: 
Number of larger company members: 
Number of research organisations/universities/technology centres: 
Number of other ecosystem actors : 
Entrepreneurship and scale-up support facilities in the cluster's ecosystem (see "Organisation type"): 
Name and link of major players: 
Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd
Larger Company
Nifco UK Limited
Larger Company
Komatsu UK Ltd
Larger Company
Larger Company
Calsonic Kansei - Automotive Products Ltd
Larger Company
Gestamp Tallent Ltd
Larger Company
Larger Company
Novares Group
Larger Company
Larger Company
Unipres (UK) Ltd
Larger Company
Lear Corporation
Larger Company
Faltec Europe Limited
Larger Company
Elring Klinger (GB) Ltd
Larger Company
SNOP UK Ltd - FSD Group
Larger Company
Hyperdrive Innovation Limited
RTC North Ltd
BorgWarner Limited
Larger Company
Zero Carbon Futures
Sunderland City Council
Cluster Strategy


To support the economic sustainable growth of the sector in the region. The NEAA is industry led and membership based.


To overcome Barriers to Growth by providing:

  • A network to sharing best practice, benchmarking and tackle common issues.
  • Access to business excellence, skills and training
  • Drive innovation and adoption of new technologies & processes
  • A focal point for collaborative projects and access to funding
  • A voice for the sector & interface with Government bodies
  • Promote sector regionally, nationally and internationally
  • Align to regional and national strategic objectives (i.e. Re-shoring)
Do you have a formalised strategy?: 
Do you have a specific strategy focus that addresses internationalisation ?: 
Support services provided: 
Facilitation of collaboration between members
Promotion of activities (marketing/ visibility)
Support of knowledge transfer
Support of technology transfer
Provision and facilitation of access to training for members
Details of support services: 

The NEAA is led by a strong Executive and Advisory Board who represent the diverse nature of the automotive industry. NEAA member companies find benefit from leadership and co-ordination of activities, which have mutual benefit and the membership creates a collaborative network, which is a more compelling and attractive environment for investors.

Our industry-led working groups focus on these issues and opportunities and member company you can engage in activity around working groups, which include:

  • Business Excellence
    • Benchmarking across agreed KPIs
    • Sharing Best Practice (BP) through BP visits
    • Focus Groups – Natural progression from topics raised at best practice visits where companies continue to collaborate on specific areas
      • Productivity
      • Energy
    • One to one company collaboration
  • Skills - Activities centred around 4 key pillars
    • Current workforce – a working group identifying and sharing current best practice in training delivery, people and organisational development
    • Graduates – a working group which looks to build stronger relationships with Universities and industry by promoting placements, internships and increasing graduate retention in the region
    • Apprentices -  a working group to increase the number of companies taking on apprentices
    • Future workforce – provide a framework for members to help ensure they have a suitably trained, competent and optimised workforce in the short, medium and long-term.
  • Innovation & Technology
    • Showcase latest technologies
    • Improve links with Universities
    • Provide funding advice and support
    • Coordinate collaborative project grants
    • Help commercialise new products and technologies
  • Trade & Investment 
    • Develop investment portfolio
    • Supporting existing NE operations to win new investment
    • Identify & promote the NE re-shoring opportunity
    • Working with regional partners to attract investment
    • Internationalisation of SMEs

Members also benefit from additional services and the promotion of the North East automotive sector’s capabilities on regional, national and international levels and the network’s ability to connect the supply chain to business opportunities. Membership benefits include but are not limited to:

  • A network which generates business and collaboration opportunities, hosts regular networking and knowledge transfer events and shared intelligence
  • Publicising your business and the regions capabilities on a global level through:
    • NEAA website Members Directory (ability to manage and edit through a unique login)
    • Ability to post company news, events and jobs through the NEAA website
    • Access to the NEAA exclusive Members’ Area for sharing knowledge, information and business opportunities, plus use of the M2M direct messaging feature
    • Coverage in the quarterly NEtwork magazine (free ½ page editorial and consideration of member news thereafter)
    • Monthly NEAA e-newsletter submissions as required
  • Increased profitability through:
    • NEAA Business Excellence programmes and sharing of best practice
    • NEAA Insurance Scheme – guaranteed saving of at least 15%, plus enhanced policy coverage and market leading risk management advice
    • NEAA Energy Scheme – reducing utility costs through purchasing at lower rates whilst helping companies to significantly reduce energy consumption.
    • NEAA Predicitive Maintainance Scheme - Reduce unplanned downtime and maximize OEE, the NEAA hs partnered with one the worlds leading predicitive maintainance companies: The leading, scalable industrial predictive maintenance product
    • NEAA R&D Tax - The NEAA has joined partnership with a oartner to help spread the word about Research and Development claims (R&D).
  • Insights into latest technologies and stimulating innovation
  • International Trade, New Business Opportunities & Supply Chain Connections
  • Support for your regional investments with technical & funding advice
  • Marketing support
  • A single unified voice for the North East automotive sector to key stakeholder groups

Further information can be found at https://www.northeastautomotivealliance.com/neaa-membership-services/.

Cooperation Activities
International Cooperation
The main countries targeted by the cluster organisation: 
United States
Our cluster organisation undertook the following international activities to support our members: 
Participation at missions/events/study visits/fairs
Trans-national Cooperation
The main countries targeted by the cluster organisation: 
Czech Republic
Our cluster organisation undertook the following trans-national activities to support our members: 
Promotional Activities
Which clusters do you collaborate with?: 
ACstyria Autocluster GmbH
Welsh Automotive Forum
Northern Automotive Alliance
Drive West Midlands
Design Network North
NOF Energy
Health Network North
VR Cluster
Construction Excellence NE
Digital Union
Silesia Automotive & Advanced Manufacturing - KSSE SA
Support Programmes
Participation in Funded Support Programmes: 
Project NameLinkName & Description (Regional/National)

Advancing the Competitiveness of NE Automotive SMEs (ACE SME) Programme (Regional ERDF)

Eligible North East SMEs can benefit from the ERDF funded SME Programme, which focuses on advancing the competitiveness of North East automotive SMEs.

The programme covers:

  1. Network & Connectivity
    • Promotion of company capability
    • Increased business and collaboration opportunities
    • Networking
    • Workshops
    • Events
  2. Business Excellence
    • Benchmarking on KPIs against peers within the region
    • Access to best practice visits
    • Support for ongoing business improvements via focus groups, peer to peer support from BP host, specialist consultants
  3. Innovation & Technology
    • Showcasing SME technology
    • Improving links with universities
    • Support the commercialisation of new technologies
    • Dissemination of funding opportunities and support to identify partners
    • Exemplar projects programme with funding to enable companies to bring new technology or processes to market
  4. Trade & Investment
    • Attracting SMEs into the supply chain
    • Developing trade opportunities for SMEs through:
      • NEAA’s cluster to cluster collaborations
      • Opportunity to join NEAA trade missions and/or at key trade shows
      • Linking UKTI support to SMEs international activity
      • Promotion of company capability on a global level
      • Promotion of UKTI business opportunity alerts via NEAA e-newsletter
      • Promotion of UKTI and SMMT trade missions

2014 to 2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme European Regional Development Fund Priority Axis 3: Enhancing the Competitiveness of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises

Success Story / Achievements: 

Success Story 1: Establishing the Cluster

In March 2016, the North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA) has achieved one year in business since its launch on 27th March 2015.

The NEAA, in accordance with cluster best practice across Europe, is industry-led and membership based. Our membership is home to a wealth of manufacturing capability, specialist products and services. Members range from world renowned OEMs, to world class Tier 1 companies, through to innovative SMEs and sole traders, as well as professional associate members.

As a collective, the NEAA has a strong portfolio of experienced companies all working together to promote and support the sustainable economic growth of the North East region’s automotive industry. The alliance is a perfect platform for member to member engagement and connecting the supply chain to business opportunities, as well as working together to solve skills issues and promote business excellence initiatives.

Highlights include:

Membership: Today we have 140 cluster participants and are already the largest automotive cluster in the UK and one of the fastest growing clusters in Europe.

Our membership runs calendar year and a clear demonstration of the value being created by the NEAA for its members is the fact that during the recent membership renewal in January only 5 did not renew.

Industry leadership and working groups: All the top performing clusters across Europe are industry-led. Industry leadership ensures that we focus and collaborate to address common constraints and develop initiatives that offer our members and the region the best opportunities. During our strategy process we identified that Business Excellence, Skills, Innovation & Technology and Trade & Investment were the priority areas of focus for the establishment of our industry led working groups.

To date we have 3 established working groups each at varying stages of development.

  • Business Excellence – the most mature and naturally the most advanced.
    • Benchmarking - benchmarking process across 15 KPI’s in order to identify best practice
    • Best Practice Visits - 8 best practice visits which have generated approx. 163 ideas for company improvements, one company reported the ideas generated in the very first best practice visit alone more than recouped their membership fee.
    • Focus Groups – these are natural progressions of the BP visits and to date we have established two focus groups - Productivity and Energy
  • Skills – The group has established a strategy centred around 4 pillars of activity
    • Future workforce – increase the number of companies engaged with schools
    • Apprenticeships – looking to increase the number of companies taking on apprenticeships.
    • Graduate – increasing the number of companies taking on graduates, graduate placements and internships; and reducing the number of graduates leaving the region.
    • Current Workforce – upskilling the current workforce to meet future demands for the sector.
  • Innovation & technology – launched in October activity will be centred around three key themes
    • Process Innovation
    • New and Emerging Technologies
    • Innovation Pathway

More than 100 industrialists are working together through our leadership team and working groups and thus far have contributed £175,500 of in-kind support for our activities. This is extremely powerful and demonstrates how the NEAA has been able to make such an impact in a very short time.

Business and collaboration: The NEAA aims to promote business and collaboration opportunities within the membership network. There has been major success in this area and a level of horizontal communication is now taking place between suppliers, which had remained closed for the last two decades. A large factor in this was the first North East Automotive Expo, which took place on 24th September 2015. The Expo attracted over 320 delegates, with 70 exhibiting companies across three exhibition halls and offered up 140 one-to-one buyer meetings from nine automotive companies – many companies have reported the generation of new business as a result of attending this event.

In order to improve communication from the alliance and between its members, the NEAA launched its new website during 2015, with a dedicated Members Area for collaboration, profiling and information gathering. The Members Area went live in December and we will continue to build upon the information hosted on here throughout 2016.

SME programme: Growing the SME supply chain in the North East has been a major focus of the NEAA. The initial ERDF funded SME programme, which ran for five months and ended 30th September 2015, surpassed its original targets by up to 200% and provided support for 27 SMEs, securing 30 jobs and creating 11 more.

Raising the profile of the NE automotive sector: The formation of the NEAA has certainly raised the profile of the North East automotive sector. We have established working relationships with many of the regional and national key stakeholders and have seats on numerous boards in order that the NE has a stronger voice. This will also enable the NEAA to become the conduit through which we focus national support for the NE automotive sector.

Success Story 2: Business Excellence Working Group

This group is the most mature WG within the NEAA. 12 leading companies form the strategy and focus groups, these are Nissan, R-TEK, Calsonic Kansei, Lear Corporation, SNOP, JCI, ZF-TRW, Unipres, Mecaplast, Komatsu, Elring Klinger and Nifco.

These companies have agree the strategy and key areas of focus, these are:

  • Benchmarking across agreed KPIs
  • Sharing Best Practice through a series of Best Practice visits
  • Focus Groups
    • Natural progression from topics raised at best practice visits
  • Improve cost competitiveness
    • Productivity
    • Resource efficiency
    • Cost reduction schemes – energy, insurance, international payments

This group has been instrumental in building a level of collaboration and horizontal communication taking place that is unprecedented with communication lines opening up that have been closed for more than two decades. The business excellence activity has definitely won the trust of suppliers based on the principle that we share “best practice” and not” trade secrets”. Again, without the NEAA relationship this mutual transfer of best practice would not have happened.

Activity to date:

  • Benchmarking - benchmarking process across 15 KPI’s in order to identify best practice
  • Best Practice Visits - 8 best practice visits which have generated approx. 160 ideas for company improvements, one company reported the ideas generated in the very first best practice visit alone more than recouped their membership fee.
  • Focus Groups – these are natural progressions of the BP visits and to date we have established two focus groups - Productivity and Energy

Success Story 3: SME Supply Chain Development Programme

Growing the SME supply chain in the North East has been a major focus of the NEAA. The initial ERDF funded SME programme, which ran for 5 months and ended 30th September 2015, surpassed its original targets.

The programme of activity focused on:

  • Growing the network
  • Promoting regional SME companies
  • Greater, more influential voice to stakeholders
  • Increasing the number of business opportunities
  • Collaboration opportunities across cluster participants

The North East Automotive Expo 2015 was a significant contributor to the SME assistance, given the level of interaction with key buyers at the event.

The assistance was also secured through company diagnostics to understand any problems that a business faces and how problems can be solved and tailored training courses. Core SMEs were able to attend valuable best practice workshops to some of the region’s leading automotive companies, with a view to taking away best practice ideas to improve their own company performance.

It is essential to the NEAA’s success that both SMEs and large automotive companies are engaged in the alliance activity. Large companies provide the opportunities for SMEs to grow whilst SMEs provide the larger companies with opportunities to improve their supply chain and source more local products and services.


Success Story 4: The North East Automotive Expo

The North East Automotive Alliance’s first Automotive Expo brought together regional suppliers together with buyers from global automotive companies and attracted over 330 delegates across the day representing more than 200 companies. Over 150 one-to-one meet the buyer with meetings took place with buyers from Nissan, Komatsu UK, Jaguar Land Rover, Lear Corporation, Faurecia, Faltec, Calsonic, Gestamp and Nifco.

The event was opened by the Local Growth and Northern Powerhouse Minister James Wharton praised the strength of the region’s automotive sector in his opening remarks, saying that it was “a sector which has a track record of huge potential for growth.”  He highlighted the important role the sector plays in rebalancing the economy.

The event was a real success for the North East automotive industry. Not only did it help raise the profile of the sector but it has brought together companies from all across the region’s supply chain. Many companies have since reported that they have identified numerous business opportunities that simply would not have been on their radar without the Expo. The event also succeeded in providing supply chain opportunities for North East companies for products and services that were being sourced from outside the region, thus helping the ratio of local content.

  • 88% of exhibitors achieved their main purpose for attending the event
  • 90% of delegates rated the event Good or Very Good


Many thanks for a great event and for your Northern hospitality. The presentations were excellent, especially those from the 2 suppliers as they provided strong success stories but at the same time set out the challenges on supplying into automotive. Some very good supplier discussions were held in the Meet the Buyer slot. Michael Mychajluk, Supply Chain & External Engagement Manager, Government Programmes, Jaguar Land Rover.

It was our first foray into the automotive world of the north east and very valuable I think. We all learnt a lot about the companies, people and operations taking place. Coming to the scene fairly unaware of the sector we were all staggered at the size and liveliness of it. Jason Collins, Marketing Director, ZeroLight

The Expo surpassed any expectations I had and thought it was both enjoyable and informative. Just what the regions needs in terms of showcasing its capability. Certainly the feedback I have had from both our suppliers and the OEM’s I spoke to at the event was very positive and very well organised. Peter Watson, Plant Manager R-TEK

Many thanks to you and your team and everyone involved for organising the event.  I think we have gained a lot of value out of it. Jason Shek, Material & Planning Manager, MICC Ltd

I just wanted to say thank you for the opportunity for the Auto IP to be involved in your event yesterday. I thought it was a great event, very well organised and really worthwhile attending. Dawn Hirst, Marketing Manager, Automotive Industrial Partnership

I really enjoyed it as the audience are so enthusiastic to engage, lots of notes since from companies in your area who want our support. Lawrence Davies, Deputy CEO, Automotive Investment Organisation

Why should partners choose you for cooperation?: 

Although still a relitevely new organisation the North East Automotive Alliance is a strong and growing cluster centred around the world renown automotive sector in the North East of England. When combined with the unique belnd of experience within the cluster management team it makes for a strong proposition for the NEAA to be the partner of choice for collaborative projects.

Automotive Sector in North East England

The North East (NE) is home to leading OEM's including Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK, Komatsu, Caterpillar, Smith Electric Vehicle, Explorer Group and Cummins, who are responsible for producing over 502,000 passenger cars and commercial vehicles, 6,400 non-highway vehicles and over 325,000 engines. The region is world renown for automotive manufacturing, indeed Nissan Sunderland is Europe’s most productive car plant and top ten across the globe. The North East accounts for 26% of all Electric Vehicle production across Europe and boasts a significant and growing reputation for investment into research and development and new and emerging technologies such as advanced propulsion and connected and autonomous vehicles.

There are over 280 automotive companies in the NE automotive sector, together they generate over £9 billion in sales, export over £5 billion annually. Today the sector directly employs 30,000 people and impacts a further 141,000 jobs across the UK. In the last five years 46 projects has resulted in £1.7 billion being invested into the NE automotive sector, future growth and expansion is set to generate an additional 10,000 new jobs in the next five to 10 years.

About North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA)

The NEAA is an industry-led cluster group, established to support the economic sustainable growth of the North East of England automotive sector. Although only launched in March 2015, with over 140 member companies the NEAA is the largest automotive cluster in the UK and one of the fastest growing clusters across Europe.

The NEAA provides a single unified voice to key stakeholder groups and promotes the true value created by the North East Automotive sector. Membership is available to businesses in the sector ranging from multi-nationals to sole traders, and the cluster group looks to support and promote existing automotive companies as well as attracting new companies and jobs to the region.

The NEAA focuses on:

  • Networking
  • Business Excellence
  • Skills & Training
  • Innovation & Technology
  • Collaboration
  • Promotion
  • Industry Voice
  • Trade & Investment

About the NEAA team

The NEAA team has a unique blend of knowledge and experience that when combined provides a truly effective cluster management team.

Paul Butler, CEO joined the NEAA in March 2015 having previously spent 10 years in the management team of one of Europe’s most successful clusters. A recognised Cluster Management Excellence practitioner and UK’s only Benchmarking Expert for the European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis (ESCA). Mr Butler was previously a member of the ESCA Cluster Excellence Expert Group before having to resign when he joined the NEAA as members are exclusively from GOLD label clusters. Mr Butler maintains good contacts into Europe, at both cluster management and cluster policy levels and has advised regional and national UK Government regarding best practice for cluster development. Mr Butler has a Master in Business Administration from Durham University.

Stuart McGivern, Project Manager, is an experienced procurement and process improvement practitioner who has worked extensively in the North East in the application and knowledge transfer of continuous improvement. Stuart spent 15 years working in procurement and supplier management for Nissan, and then completed training with SMMT industry forum with the North East Productivity Alliance based in the Regional Development Agency. He then transferred to the MAS organisation in 2008 and spent 3 years at PA Consulting as a member of the leadership team heading up Operational Excellence. Prior to joining the NEAA in May 2015, Stuart ran his own business, Key Performance Innovations, which provided tailored and innovative productivity solutions.

Eddie Leng, Project Manager, is an organisational training and development practitioner, joined the NEAA in May 2015 as Project Manager. Prior to his appointment Eddie worked with both the 1st tier automotive supply chain and wider SME engineering/ manufacturing base, delivering effective training and development solutions. He was a key member of the North East Productivity Alliance and previously worked for the sector skills council SEMTA. With over 30 years’ experience including Worldwide Benchmarking studies, Eddie was made an Honorary Fellow of Sunderland University in 2004 for services to Business and lifelong learning.

Laura Gage, Marketing Manager, joined the NEAA in May 2015 as Marketing & PR Manager. Prior to joining NEAA, Laura worked at Corus, before moving into the subsea oil & gas sector, where she worked as Marketing Manager at DeepOcean, IHC Engineering Business and most recently Reef Subsea. Laura has over 10 years’ experience in business-to-business marketing and holds a BA Hons in Marketing Management from Northumbria University.

Deborah Fletcher, Office Manager, joined the NEAA in April 2015. Prior to her appointment, Deborah was Information Officer for Tyne and Wear Development Company where she spent 10 years as part of the team which was successful in attracting Inward Investment worth millions of pounds to region, as well as creating thousands of jobs. Deborah has a wealth of knowledge and experience of the support infrastructure for inward investors.