Investment in Opportunity North East (One) is to be doubled to £62million over the next 10 years in an attempt to pull the region’s economy away from a “cliff edge”.
Formed at the end of 2015 as the private sector’s response to the challenge of diversifying and strengthening the regional economy, the economic development body had an initial funding commitment of £29million over five years from The Wood Foundation.
But last night it was announced that this has now been extended with a further £33million to One over a second five-year term, starting in 2021.
The main condition, achieving match funding, continues to apply.
The investment will enable One to extend its activity, in partnership with industry, in digital; food, drink and agriculture; life sciences; oil and gas; and tourism, and by enhancing the entrepreneurial environment.
The news came as One reported its second year of good progress at its annual event in Aberdeen, attended by more than 140 senior business people and public-sector leaders.
Speaking at the event, Sir Ian Wood, chairman of One, stressed the need to capitalise on growth opportunities across the region’s industrial base to secure its economic future.
He said: “We are heading for an economic cliff edge if we don’t act and invest now to maximise our remaining oil and gas reserves, anchor as much as possible of our high-value energy supply chain in the region long term and invest in our other sectors to rebalance the economy.
“The good news is that the region is now very awake to this challenge, action is underway, we can see some daylight, and there are further projects in development.”
Sir Ian also stressed the responsibility that all stakeholders have in shaping the future of the economy.
He added: “Two years into One, the question for me is have we made a difference? The feedback is that the One model is clearly working. We are catalysing change. Things are happening, and faster than before. I also think we can do more.
“For this reason, The Wood Foundation is extending its original 2015 commitment to One of £29million over five years with the provision of a further £33million over a second five-year term to extend the scope of the sectors to deliver long term impacts. We, the oil generation in this region, have an obligation to future generations and we must all work to pass on an acceptable industrial legacy.”