The North East Productivity Alliance (NEPA), which has saved regional manufacturers £20m in productivity costs since it was created in 2004, is now set to be rolled out across Europe.
The £2m European Regions for Innovative Productivity (ERIP) project, led by One NorthEast, has been approved by the Interreg North Sea Region Programme and will jointly develop NEPA best practice across Germany, Holland, Belgium, Norway and Sweden.
The three-year project will develop and test the principles of lean manufacturing and how it can improve the long-term competitiveness of SMEs. It is hoped that the joint transnational activity of the project will deliver a valuable lean change methodology to SMEs that does not currently exist and will be transferable across the regions.
One NorthEast manufacturing and productivity manager Dr Colin Herron said: ‘The 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.’
He added: ‘NEPA has been selected to head this project because it has a track record of delivery.’
One NorthEast is now the first regional development agency to have a project approved under the new Interreg programme and it is hoped that the scheme will bring together a European partnership with RDAs, universities, SMEs and industry.
One NorthEast transitional development senior specialist Emma Harvey 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. The achievements of ERIP will also add value to the aims of our new ERDF regional programme priority Enhancing & Exploiting Innovation.’