Creating New Networking
The North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA) is an industry-led cluster group, established to support the economic sustainable growth and competitiveness of the sector in the North East of England. Launched in March 2015, now with over 300 cluster participants, the NEAA is the largest automotive cluster in the UK and one of the fastest growing clusters across Europe.
Our aim is simple – to build upon the region’s significant automotive capability and to firmly establish the North East as a true global automotive powerhouse – ensuring North East is at the forefront of the Governments strategy to ensure the technologies of tomorrow are designed, developed and manufactured in the UK.
With over 300 members in the North East, NEAA wanted to simplify management of their members, encourage inward investment in the region, increase member-to-member collaboration and capture more intelligence to feed into the their cluster development programmes.
As CEO, Paul Butler explained “The automotive industry is advancing rapidly, with the sector focusing on emerging technologies such as electric and autonomous vehicles. And in this economic climate, it is important that we provide a digital platform for our members to promote capabilities and interests and find new global customers, suppliers and innovation partners.
“Being involved from the start of the project to now I am passionate about the NEAA Cluster Link and how successful it can be. Speaking from a direct supplier, a company who simplifies complex supply chains within the industry, the system can help us create conversations with new businesses by using it as a networking platform for manufacturers to see our products and services. Not only that, it is user friendly, easily accessible and very straight forward to use. What else can we ask for? Everything in one place.”
The platform provided a single access portal for capability mapping, sharing news and activities through a feed, producing surveys and diagnostic assessments (such as DRL) for members while providing an easy to way of sharing and promoting member capabilities to the NEAA.
This enabled NEAA to connect closely with their membership and use the intelligence they captured to facilitate collaboration between OEMs and SMEs through easy to share dashboards. As Grahame Turner, Business Development Manager, FEG Ltd., and NEAA member explained “Being able to expand your visibility to customers is always important for SMEs. Using this platform, which will link into other local and national groups in the future, provides great potential for increase in business.”
NEAA are now planning to leverage the platform connectivity to add value to their ‘meet the buyer’ events. As a lot of collaboration and prospecting can happen digitally, the platform enabales SMEs who are strapped for resources, time and want to keep the costs low, to still engage and network with companies in the region. Something that member company TR Fastenings believe is important, saying “The Cluster Link has the potential to offer members increased visibility, information sharing and B2B business opportunities not only in the North East but Nationwide. The Cluster Link could allow members to appreciate and drill down the supply chain beyond the traditional tier 1, or 2 approach.
NEAA also plans to introduce DRL tool to assess digital maturity and help members move up the digital ladder, all through this single portal.