• Advanced Manufacturing

    When deciding where to locate or grow your advanced manufacturing operations, County Durham has a lot to offer.

    The county plays a significant part in supporting and providing the right conditions for advanced manufacturing businesses to thrive.

    As the largest economy in the North East, County Durham is a prominent contributor to the area’s standing as the leading UK region for advanced manufacturing foreign direct investment in per capita. Almost 69,000 people are employed (6% of its total workforce) generating  £8.0bn GVA turnover with growing exports (increased by 12% from £9.2bn to £10.3bn between 2014 and 2019).

    In and around County Durham, there are more than 52,000 STEM students – 50% of its student population with nearly 10,000 studying engineering and technology subjects, 8.7% of its student population – the highest proportion of any UK region. 

    More than 140 undergraduate and postgraduate engineering-related courses are available across the region’s five universities, while an additional 11 colleges offer over 300 advanced manufacturing-related courses.

    The region has 50% more capability in manufacturing than the English average and has specialised research centres of excellence including the:

    • Automotive & Manufacturing Advanced Practice (AMAP) 
    • Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) 
    • Future Engineering, Informatics for Business and Manufacturing
    • National Centre for Ageing Science and Innovation
    • National Institute for Smart Data Innovation (NISDI)
    • Technology Futures Institute
    • Transport Operations Research Group (TORG). 

    County Durham offers significant labour and property cost savings for advanced manufacturing operations compared to UK regions and global hubs.  A variety of incentives, industry support bodies and networking events make the area an attractive option.

    An important specialism for the region is precision engineering in the aerospace, rail, automotive, and oil and gas sectors. 

    Cost savings

    • The North East offers highly competitive salary costs for advanced manufacturing jobs. It costs just under £34,000 to employ an engineer in the North East; this is just under one-third cheaper compared to Greater London.
    • The North East has some of the lowest property costs in Europe. Office costs are 20% lower than in the North West and South West of England and more than 85% cheaper than in London.
    • The North East is one of the least expensive locations in which to establish an aerospace manufacturing operation, with annual operating costs (labour and property) of £10.61m. The region offers more than £11m cost savings compared to Antwerp and over £15m compared to Greater London. 

    Business incentives and support for the sector 

    Business Durham offers bespoke one-to-one assistance and key support programmes such as Finance Durham, Digital Drive Durham and the County Durham Growth Fund. We can also signpost businesses to support networks in the surrounding ecosystem. Additional sources of funding are available through various organisations and support programmes including NBSL, RTC North, BEEP, NE BIC and Business Boost.

    Research and innovation

    North East England has developed an unequalled reputation for production but now it’s becoming recognised as a location for innovation. Much of this innovation is derived from fruitful partnerships between advanced manufacturing companies, universities and research institutions, which has helped the industry maintain an edge over competitors.

    Advanced Manufacturing regional support networks

    Support organisations by sector include:

    Key sites

    • NETPark
    • Jade Business Park
    • Integra61
    • Aycliffe Business Park
    • Forrest Park
    • Merchant Park

    See this strategic sites and land section for more information about key sites