North East entrepreneurial spirit and investment in innovation have been recognised by a national survey measuring the contribution small businesses make to the national economy.
The Barclays Business regional Impact Index measures the impact UK regions are having on boosting the recovery.
Despite facing a difficult economic environment over the past year, North East entrepreneurs were found to have more entrepreneurial spirit than in any other part of the country after moving up three places from last year.
Businesses in the region have also made a significant contribution to the local economy by buying locally, with 55% of supplies coming from local and regional businesses.
The strength of the North East exports industry was also noted, with 81% of North East SMEs found to be “born global”.
James Cliffe, Barclays Business Divisional `director was extremely encouraged by the North East statistics.
He commented: “There is still optimism in the North East, with businesses introducing new products and services to help them prepare for the recovery.
“Innovation is a great way to drive growth in a business, potentially exposing small businesses to new markets both at home and abroad, and North East SMEs are taking advantage to the overseas market, helping to diversify their customer base and making them less reliant on smaller regional markets.”
Challenging the traditionally held belief of a North-South divide, the results also showed that future job creation is highest in the North East at 21%, and 54% of North East businesses feel optimistic about their growth prospects.
The Index is based on a study of 1,000 owner managers completed by Kingston University’s Small Business Research Centre. Professor Robert Blackburn who developed the research commented:
“In terms of regional performance, the Barclays Business Regional Impact Index shows that SMEs in the North East, London and South West are proving to be the most resilient in today’s tough economic climate.
“The North East, which tops the Index is particularly interesting, and its position at the top of the table could be down to entrepreneurs in this region having a long standing propensity to innovate and export beyond their limited regional market, in contrast to those enjoying close proximity to larger metropolitan markets.”