Skip to main content

View of Durham Cathedral across the River Wear

The five universities in the North East of England have come together to launch a joint report highlighting the positive impact we make in the region.

How universities benefit our regional economy 

A new report has concluded the five universities in the North East of England, including Durham, contribute £2.2bn annually  to the region's economy and support more than 34,000 jobs. 

Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside universities have launched the Innovating Together – Universities in the North East (InTUNE) report.

The report showcases the contribution of the five universities to the region's innovation and business growth agenda, and their potential role in delivering activities which contribute to the UK Government’s levelling up agenda.

This includes support for businesses and the creative industries, research and development collaborations, and workforce training in key sectors.

Collectively, the five universities:

  • support more than 34,000 jobs
  • contribute £2.2bn annually to the economy of North East England 
  • play a huge role in the health, wellbeing and resilience of communities across the region.

With the launch of the report at the Transforming Tomorrow Together Roundtable, hosted by CEO of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), Dame Ottoline Leyser, the aim is to explore the potential for further collaboration for the benefit of the region and its residents.

Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, UKRI Chief Executive, said:

"This report demonstrates very clearly how collaboration between diverse regional partners can fuel innovation with real impact. UKRI is committed to working with our partners in the North East to shape a dynamic, diverse and inclusive research and innovation system that creates high quality jobs and public services, benefitting the whole region."

Professor Colin Bain, Durham University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) said:

“This report demonstrates our successful track record of working together on key economic development and innovation initiatives.  Thanks to our complementary institutional strengths we have created opportunities that would have not been possible without working together.

"Our strong ethos of collaboration is central to the ambitious work we seek to do together in the future. Universities are key partners in economic growth, underpinning place-making in our cities, towns and communities and by working together we continue to make a positive difference in the region.”

The power of five

Over the past seven years, 465 projects involving two or more of the five universities have been delivered with a research value of £243m.

In 2020/21, the five universities collectively supported over 700 graduate start-ups and 59 spin outs, with almost 80% of these being based in the North East and benefitting the local economy.

The report focuses on nine joint innovation projects which target some of the region’s priority sectors and were set up to stimulate innovation, support business growth, and improve productivity. To date:

  • Eight of the nine are forecast to contribute £33.3m and support 1,524 small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), generate an increase in employment of 662 jobs, and help SMEs bring 768 new products/processes to either the market or the firm. To date, these eight projects have created 500 net new jobs and net £23m Gross Value Added (GVA), with more jobs and GVA expected to be created in the future, as a result of the investment.
  • The ninth project, Northern Accelerator has been a game changer for commercialisation in North East England, significantly increasing the average number of spin-outs from 1.8 per annum pre-project, to an average of more than 8 per annum.

What we achieve together

These findings follow an independent report, What we achieve together, commissioned in 2022 to establish just how Durham University contributes to the economic, cultural and social vibrancy of North East England. It found that we generated £1.9bn GVA for the UK and supported 17,320 jobs in 2020/21.

Project case study: Creative Fuse

Creative Fuse is a unique partnership between the five universities which has supported small businesses in the creative, cultural and digital sectors, helping boost innovation, create jobs, and attract additional funding.

Project case study: Intensive Industrial Innovation Programme (IIIP) 

IIIP is a collaboration between Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria and Teesside universities to support PhD students become embedded in regional SMEs.  Successful SMEs are supported by a dedicated PhD research student for three years, as well as gaining access to senior academic researchers and university research facilities.  


Find out more