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Durham's Innovation and Inclusive Growth: A Compelling Investment Opportunity

In the heart of the North East, County Durham stands poised to become the driving force behind the region's innovation, entrepreneurial spirit, and inclusive growth. With a clear strategic vision based on globally significant high growth sectors, abundant, affordable employment land, cutting-edge research hubs, advanced manufacturing, and a vibrant cultural scene, Durham is gearing up to be the innovation engine of the North East.

At the core of Durham's appeal is a network of partnerships committed to transformative investment. The collaborative efforts of the County Durham Economic Partnership, Durham County Council, Business Durham (the council's business support service), and wide-range of public and private partners reflect a proven track record of delivering high impact economic and cultural initiatives. Together, they are dedicated to cultivating a thriving business and innovation ecosystem, attracting significant capital investment and fostering positive change and growth in Durham.

The recently unveiled Investment Pitchbook provides an in-depth view of the diverse investment opportunities in County Durham. Curated and prioritised to drive economic growth and create inclusive and sustainable places, these prospects span economic, cultural, placemaking, transportation, and renewable energy sectors. Aligned with the County Durham Inclusive Economy Strategy, these projects leverage Durham's existing innovation and research ecosystem, promoting progress in advanced manufacturing, green energy, and cultural revitalisation, thereby contributing to the UK's Levelling Up Agenda.

Durham invites potential investment partners to join this journey, capitalising on a significant project pipeline and launching the county into a prosperous future. With the establishment of the North East Mayoral Combined Authority (NEMCA) as part of the national devolution agenda, Durham's significance as a key player in the regional economy is poised to see further growth.

Amy Harhoff, Corporate Director of Regeneration Economy and Growth at Durham County Council said: " County Durham is at the forefront of fostering innovation and inclusive growth. Our collaborative efforts, alongside partners, are driving positive change. With a commitment to sustainable development and a thriving business ecosystem, we invite investors to join us on this journey, shaping Durham's prosperous future together."

The Case for Investment

Industrial Heritage and Innovation Ecosystem

Durham's economic strengths lie in its unique innovation and research assets, industrial heritage, and strategic location. There is a high concentration of businesses in advanced manufacturing, including pharmaceuticals, electronics, chemicals, and metals.  The county’s innovation excellence features CPI, an innovation catalyst for adopting advanced tech and manufacturing solutions, and Pragmatic, the world leader in semiconductor innovation.

FinTech & Software

FinTech and software are also thriving in Durham, with Atom Bank, one of the best-known challenger banks and pioneers of the world's first digital mortgage, based in the county. Durham is 84% more specialised than the GB average in financial services.

Space & Satellites

County Durham is home to Space North East England, a cluster organisation for the rapidly growing space sector in the region. The Space North East England Cluster is poised to generate 10,000 new jobs by 2030.

Research & Innovation

With abundant employment land and over ten high-quality business parks and innovation centres including the council’s North East Technology Park (NETPark) in Sedgefield which employs over 700 people in specialist science and technology sectors. Hosting three National Catapult Centres and three national innovation centres, NETPark is a hub of research and innovation. A £62m investment in phase 3 will complete in January 2025 creating up to a further 1,250 jobs on site, with a further 40 hectares allocated for further expansion.  

Green Energy

Durham's natural geography and industrial heritage provides significant opportunities  in geothermal energy, district heating, and lithium extraction. This not only aligns with the UK's energy transition and electric vehicle aspirations but is also complemented by the presence of the Durham Energy Institute. Renowned for its leadership in hydrogen, offshore, smart energy, and regulatory research, the Institute adds depth to the county's commitment. In parallel, the county has assisted nearly 500 small businesses in reducing carbon emissions, substantially saving over 2,500 tonnes of CO2.

Pride in Place, Culture, and People

Durham's pride in its place, culture, and people sets it apart from elsewhere in the country. The region's blend of rich medieval and industrial history, stunning natural landscapes, prestigious educational institutions, and an extensive set of visitor attractions make it a unique and premier destination.

Gateway to the North East

As the 8th largest county by population, Durham connects over 2.5 million people in the North East and the rest of the country through crucial road and rail links. Ports, airports, and strong growth underscore its strategic importance.

World Leading Education

World-renowned Durham University is a source of premium talent and research impact. The county's further education offer is strong, with the North East Institute of Technology (IOT) led by New College Durham, UTC South Durham and several others providing specialist engineering, manufacturing, and digital training.

Heritage & Culture

From being the home of the world's first railway to prominent attractions like Durham Cathedral and Barnard Castle, Durham is transforming its cultural heritage into a modern visitor offer. The arts and recreation sector has grown more than twice as fast as the North East average over the last decade.

Quality of Life

With the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, over 20 miles of coastline, affordable living, easy access to other cities, and Northeastern friendliness, Durham offers a quality of life that attracts 18 million visitors, contributing to a £1 billion tourism spend in 2022.

With the recent establishment of the North East Mayoral Combined Authority (NEMCA) and billion pounds of investment as part of the national devolution agenda, Durham's strategic importance as a regional economic powerhouse is set to reach new heights.

In conclusion, Durham offers a unique blend of innovation, entrepreneurialism, creativity, and a strong sense of place, culture, and people. The region's strategic importance as a regional economic powerhouse is set to reach new heights, and potential investment partners are invited to join Durham on this journey, capitalising on its robust project pipeline and propelling the county into a prosperous future.

Explore further details at or visit the County Durham stand at UKREiif to learn more.


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