Operational Programme 'North East of England'

Under the Competitiveness and Employment objective 2007-2013 – co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

United Kingdom

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On 10 December 2007, the European Commission approved a Regional Operational Programme for the North East of England for the period 2007-13. The Operational Programme falls within the framework laid out for the Regional Competitiveness and Employment Objective and has a total budget of around €750 million. Community investment through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) amounts to some €375 million, which represents approximately 3.5% of the total EU investment in the United Kingdom under the Cohesion Policy 2007-13.

1. Aim and purpose of the programme

With a per capita GDP at 80% of the EU average, the North East of England is particularly challenged by the decline of traditional industries and a weak enterprise base. The low GDP and relatively low value added by the enterprise sector contrast with the near-full employment of the region. This Programme can make a difference by enhancing competitive and innovative businesses, supporting the research base and helping enterprises to exploit the scientific strength of the regional research institutions. The programme aims equally to enhance the economic performance of the weakest communities in the region.

2. The expected impact of the investment

The Programme is expected to create or safeguard almost 30 000 jobs and to help create 3000 new businesses. It should generate additional GDP of £1.1 billion in the region per year. A special target is to support a minimum number of projects in the most disadvantaged areas of the region (at least 15% of the supported enterprises shall be based in these areas). The Research and Development (R&D) expenditure shall be increased and environmental management and energy efficiency in 2800 business will be improved.

The programme puts high emphasis on the innovation “connectors” network in the region. Innovation Connector projects will augment capacity in the region's Universities and Centres of Excellence by providing a spatially distributed, geographical focus for the application of science and innovation related activities, particularly in fields relevant to the priority sectors. Innovation Connectors will combine leading edge facilities, joint business and university research and development programmes, education and access to employment programmes. Further actions encourage the use of technologically advanced solutions for problems of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) based in the region.

3. Priorities

The Operational Programme is structured according to the following priorities:

Priority 1: Enhancing and exploiting innovation [approximately 53.0% of total funding]

The objective of the priority is to promote the exploitation of science, technology and innovation within the region's business base and broader communities. Support will go first into a number of identified "Innovation Connectors".

Priority 2: Business growth and enterprise [approximately 43.0% of total funding]

The objective of the priority is to develop the enterprise base of the region by supporting business formation and sustainability, in particular in disadvantaged parts of the region, and to support a more dynamic, growing business base across the region as a whole. The priority is focusing firstly upon the need to address the region’s relative underperformance in productivity, business formation and survival rates and secondly by prioritising enterprise related investment in the most disadvantaged areas of the region.

Priority 3: Technical assistance [approximately 4.0% of total funding]

The objective of the priority is to facilitate effective management and accountability of the programme during its life-time by supporting work towards more effective partnership, greater regional economic development effort coordination as well as through support for innovation and learning of experience.

Financial and Technical information

Operational Programme 'North East of England'

Intervention Type

Operational Programme

CCI no


Number of decision


Final approval date


Breakdown of finances by priority axis

Priority Axis EU Investment National Public Contribution Total Public Contribution
Enhancing and exploiting innovation 199 120 428 199 120 428 398 240 854
Business growth and enterprise 161 550 536 161 550 536 323 101 072
Technical assistance 15 027 956 15 027 956 30 055 914
Total 375 698 920 375 698 920 751 397 840