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At the last dinner we had some lively discussions about the Local Economic Partnership (LEP) and Science Industry Partnership (SIP) skills initiative.

The Science Industry Partnership is an novel and unprecedented collaboration among pharma companies to develop a comprehensive skills framework. It is expected to be funded by BIS at £20m+.

I attach a brochure describing what is planned. Ian Mains i.mains@process.nsacademy.co.uk can provide more details.

Ed Twiddy, the LEP CEO introduced its plans at the dinner, summarised by Ed and Ben Fisher of Newcastle Science City as follows:

1) North East LEP (NELEP) has an allocation of up to £460m from the European Commission to spend between 2014-2020. This is one of the largest EU allocations in the country. The three funds that make up this pot of money are: European Regional Development Funding (ERDF), European Social Fund (ESF) and European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development EAFRD). The three funds will support five areas identified by NELEP as important to the economy: business support; access to finance (aimed largely at SMEs); skills; low carbon and innovation (focussed on the commercialisation end of R&D). The smart specialisation work being conducted by Newcastle Science City sits informs the innovation theme by generation objective evidence about what the region is good at and supports all of the above areas but focusses on specific sectors of economic activity (including life sciences) in which the region has strengths.

2) What does this mean for First for Pharma members and the life sciences community in the North East? The ERDF money is of main interest to life science companies and organisations (including pharma manufacturing) as this is what can fund direct aid to provide investments in companies (in particular though not exclusively SMEs), infrastructure linked to R&D and innovation, access to finance programmes and so on. Skills are funded through ESF.  NELEP has gone out to consultation on what the £460m should be spent on and is therefore are calling on companies and organisations (individually or collectively) to feed into this process. Newcastle Science City’s online survey (now closed) focussed specifically on innovation, NELEP has produced its own online survey and this can be found at: www.nelep.co.uk/european-funding. There will also be a series of consultation events with stakeholders in December which First for Pharma members will be invited to be involved in.

As some may know, I am now seconded part-time to the LEP to help implement the innovation strategy. As well as being relevant to EU funding priorities, it forms part of the Strategic Economic Plan that will be submitted to BIS in a parallel process and help draw down UK Government funding to the region. Consultation on the Strategic Economic Plan will take place after Christmas. I should be very happy to share what I know in more detail with anyone interested.

With best wishes
Michael

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