North East project goes global

A North East manufacturing project is to be rolled out across Europe. The North East Productivity Alliance (NEPA) has saved regional manufacturers £20million in productivity costs since it was created in 2004, and is now set to share its experience in lean manufacturing across Europe.

The 'European Regions for Innovative Productivity' (ERIP) project, led by regional development agency One NorthEast and worth over three million euros, has been approved by the Interreg North Sea Region Programme to share and jointly develop NEPA best practice across regions in Germany, Holland, Belgium, Norway and Sweden.

Dr Colin Herron, One NorthEast Manufacturing and Productivity Manager, said: "This project recognises the pioneering work we have been conducting and will make the North East the focal point for excellence in manufacturing, which is a major economic sector in regions across Europe.

"The innovative concept of lean manufacturing is not a new thing in Europe, but the North East has been pioneering large scale dissemination of the tools and techniques. It makes sense to share our knowledge, expertise and experience with partners in the North Sea area of Europe to help us all become more competitive against low cost economies."

The three year project will develop and test the principles of lean manufacturing and how it can improve the long term competitiveness of SMEs with under 150 employees.

Emma Harvey, One NorthEast Transitional Development Senior Specialist, said: "ERIP is an excellent example of the opportunities transnational EU Programmes such as Interreg offer the North East to support the Regional Economic Strategy. Through collectively addressing common issues we share with other regions across the EU and pooling our expertise, we can develop joint solutions."

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